COMPLEX SYSTEMS AND OBESITY IN HUMAN POPULATIONS
June 27-July 1, 2016
1:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Course Number: 340.738.11
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 Objectives: 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
Student Evaluation: Lab write up and a final exam
Grading Options: Letter grade or Pass/Fail
Course Materials: Provided in class and through CoursePlus