Frameworks for Improved Nutrition for The Centers for Disease Control
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Applying the design process to address mass social change
“Our time spent with IDEO did exactly what I hoped for—and that is to help the CDC learn about different approaches for addressing a given health issue.” -Casey Hannan, CDC
Obesity in the U.S. has reached record-breaking levels, especially among children and teens. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), an estimated 17% of children and adolescents aged 2-19 are overweight. Resulting from an imbalance in the number of calories consumed and those expended, this epidemic involves genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors that could lead to serious health problems later in life.
The CDC, a sentinel for global health and wellness, strives to provide people with reliable health information and the benefits of strong public and private partnerships. Recognizing the growing obesity epidemic, the CDC and the Academy for Educational Development engaged IDEO to conduct a workshop relating to research done around lower-income women and exercise. The brief workshop led the CDC and IDEO to another congressionally mandated project for social impact—looking at fruit and vegetable consumption among tweens.
Currently undergoing this sixteen-week project, IDEO and the CDC are examining ways to change the habits of an entire generation of tweens—a group far more likely to change attitudes and behaviors about health before they become life-long issues. To date, IDEO has begun observations with a number of stakeholders and change agents, including nutrition experts, participants at the Edible Schoolyard, and children and staff members at 826 Valencia, a non-profit organization working at the forefront of examining new models of tutoring and tween behaviors. While still in the early phases of development, and with final deliverables still undefined, the team is looking at communication, product, or service design possibilities to promote wide-scale change and prevention in the battle against youth obesity, and the promotion of fruit and vegetable consumption.
Project date: 2007