Math can often provide quicker and more reliable answers to medical questions where experimental research could take years. So it is with obesity, as Dr. Carson Chow of the NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases explained in a recent interview with the New York Times.
At the 2010 SIAM Annual Meeting, Dr. Chow gave an overview of mathematical models on obesity, giving a very engaging account of “The Dynamics of Obesity” in an invited presentation.
Weight change in the human body can be viewed simply as the difference between the rate of food intake and energy expenditure, Dr. Chow explained, going on to detail the various factors that can influence obesity. The energy density of various body components including water, bones, minerals, fat, protein and carbohydrates influence weight gain, in addition to fuel sources or macronutrients. By applying mathematical models, Dr. Chow illustrated that the “food push” in America is the primary reason for increasing obesity in the U.S. population. The high amount of food available per capita in the U.S. should be mitigated in order to control the obesity epidemic, he concluded.
Dr. Chow’s complete presentation from SIAM AN10 can be viewed on the SIAM Presents archives here.
You can also read detailed insights and a summary of his AN10 talk on his blog here.