Take 2: A Second Summer of International Study and Domestic Research aimed at
Understanding and Preventing the Obesity Epi...
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Take 2: A Second Summer of International Study and Domestic Research aimed at Understanding and Preventing the Obesity Epidemic by Albert Anastasio


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Take 2: A Second Summer of International Study and Domestic Research aimed at Understanding and Preventing the Obesity Epidemic by Albert Anastasio

  1. 1. Take 2: A Second Summer of International Study and Domestic Research aimed at Understanding and Preventing the Obesity Epidemic Albert Anastasio ISSSTE Clinic, Merida, Mexico; KIIS program, WKU University; Harvard School of Public Health, Nutrition Department; National Institute of Health; Centre College; Brown Fellows Foundation Brief Summary After last summer spent researching nutrition and the obesity epidemic in the Latino community (Panama and Philadelphia), I used my Brown Fellows funds to continue to pursue this passion by shadowing surgeons in Mexico and working as a research assistant at the Nutrition Department at the Harvard School of Public Health. At work in Panama the Island of Taboga The Research: Boston: the Harvard School of Public Health Merida, Mexico: the ISSSTE clinic May27th – June30th To begin my second summer of Brown Fellows enrichment, I flew into the Cancun airport and traveled to Merida, Mexico. After meeting up with the other students in the study abroad program, I met my host family and began shadowing surgeons at the local public clinic (ISSSTE) and taking a class on Hispanic Civilization and Culture. My experience in the clinic was extremely formative. While I had initially intended to work directly with a nutrition expert and spend less time in the operating rooms at the ISSSTE, I soon realized my time was better spent at the hospital, because I was allowed to observe surgeries of all types. I saw live births, Csections, laparotomy, cardiac surgery, neuro-surgery, joint replacements of all kinds, plastic surgery, cancer removal, and even limb amputation. Within each of these subcategories, I saw multiple different procedures. Needless to say, I would not have been allowed access in the same way to view these surgeries in the states as someone with no prior medical training. Furthermore, the majority of the surgeries had their roots in problems related to obesity, so I was able to draw connections to my more specific interest in nutrition and weight management. July 1st -- August 18th Arriving in Boston and starting work the very next day at one of the top public health research facilities in the nation, located on the campus of the most famous medical school in the world, was intimidating. I used my past research experiences as assurance that I was not in unfamiliar territory and I threw myself into the research of Dr. Anne Lusk. From my office in the Department of Nutrition, I was involved with multiple stages of the epidemiological, survey based research for which Dr. Walter Willett (the head of the department) has become the world’s foremost nutrition expert. The specific project I spent the most time working on was a project aimed at producing a set of guidelines that could be referred to when constructing a bicycle path with special emphasis placed on making the path a welcoming and accessible place for people of all ages, races, and socio-economic levels. In this way, the project was aimed at increasing physical activity in the American population. Dr. Walter Willett’s Nutrition Department Dr. Walter Willett is one of the top 5 most cited researches in the field of medical science and he is recognized as the most cited nutrition expert worldwide. He the department chair of the Nutrition Department at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), which has produced some of the world’s most talked about and well respected advice regarding food choice and healthy eating. Through his 20 year cohort studies in which he surveyed groups of people who share the same profession and general lifestyle about their food choices, he was able to determine which foods had a preventative effect on cancer and other life threatening conditions as well as which foods can prevent obesity and overeating. The Healthy Eating Pyramid and the Healthy Eating Plate: two of the most recognized contributions of the Nutrition Department at HSPH. The reasoning behind the images is all supported by research from the department. Dr. Lusk has been conducting an in-depth study of 20 greenways, or shareduse paths, throughout the United States. Ten of these greenways are considered highly frequented and ten less highly frequented. Her theory suggests that the highly frequented greenways have multiple destinations a set distance apart that meet human needs (bathrooms, eateries, views, etc.) In each of these sets of 10 greenways are 4 greenways that are in lower income neighborhoods with predominantly minority residents. The southwest corridor in Boston. One of the paths we studied and my commuter route to work each day! Perhaps if greenways have destinations a set distance apart with rewarding elements, these greenways might increase physical activity. The path users might be more willing to walk, bike, or skate if they had an ice cream store, a coffee shop, or a mountain overlook as a goal. This research could also inform urban planning. If a city is installing networks of bike lanes or cycle tracks, it might be important to locate eateries, public bathrooms, and air pumps a set a distance apart just as highways have destinations with food, bathrooms, and gasoline a set distance apart. As our research has not yet been published, I have borrowed this graph from a previous publication of Dr. Lusk’s as an example of the type of graphs that will be created to display our results. In this case, the graph depicts expansion factors used to adjust bicycle counts for (a) month, (b) day, and (c) hour on research conducted to determine variable crash rates on certain bicycle paths. The pyramid at Chichen Itza ISSSTE Hospital In Mexico, I made great friends and learned a tremendous amount of medical Spanish. In 5 weeks, I felt that if my summer were to come to a close after Mexico, it would have still been a jam-packed, amazing experience. However, most of the summer remained, and I flew directly into Boston and started work the very next day at the Harvard School of Public Health. RESEARCH POSTER PRESENTATION DESIGN © 2012 www.PosterPresentations.com Have you heard eating almonds is advised because of their healthy fat content? It was Dr. Willett who first recommended them. Conclusion Working with Dr. Lusk was an incredible experience, and she and I will be in contact as the paper goes through its various stages until eventual publication in a peer reviewed journal. I am looking forward to seeing the stages of development of a journal article, and am very thankful to Dr. Lusk for choosing to include me as an author in this publication.