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Department: Epidemiology
Term: Summer Inst. term
Credits: 2 credits
Contact: Ayesha Khan
Academic Year: 2013 - 2014
Course Instructor:

Introduce students to tools of theory building and data analysis in systems science to understand the obesity epidemic in human populations. Taught as seminar with emphasis on reading and discussion of key papers; also a mini-lab component in which students will build a simple model of food acquisition behavior using agent-based modeling on standard software (Vensim, PLE). Key aim is to examine the obesity epidemic at a population level as an emergent properties of complex, nested systems, with attention to feedback processes, sensitivity to initial conditions, and complex temporal dynamics. Will explore how approach can be applied to other non-communicable diseases both nationally and internationally. Topics : a) the epidemiology of obesity across time and place, b) theories for population obesity, c) basic concepts and tools of systems science, d) modeling biology in context, e) agent-based and systems dynamic models, f) use of systems tools for evaluation of policy

Learning Objective(s):
Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
Summarize current knowledge on the epidemiology of obesity across the life course and in different countries
Review and critique major explanatory frameworks on the obesity epidemic including cultural factors, pricing and economic factors, globalization of food production, advertising and media, and environmental determinants.
Characterize food production and delivery systems
Review potential use of agent based models for evaluation of potential policy solutions to combat obesity

Methods of Assessment: Lab write up and a final exam
Location: East Baltimore
Class Times:
  • Mon 06/24/2013 - Fri 06/28/2013
  • Monday 1:30 - 5:00
  • Tuesday 1:30 - 5:00
  • Wednesday 1:30 - 5:00
  • Thursday 1:30 - 5:00
  • Friday 1:30 - 5:00
Enrollment Minimum: 10
Instructor Consent: No consent required
Auditors Allowed: No
Grading Restriction: Letter Grade or Pass/Fail
Special Comments: Can be taken in combination with Epi of Diabetes and Obesity (340.644).