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Columbia Grand Rounds: Achieving Public Health 3.0 through Food Policy

Columbia Mailman School of Public Health’s January Grand Rounds will feature presentations by Dr. Y. Claire Wang, associate professor of Health Policy and Management, and Mr. Mark Bittman, author and lecturer in the Department of Health Policy and Management. Titled “Achieving Public Health 3.0 through Food Policy—A Broadening Vision of Food and Health,” Wang and Bittman will lead a discussion on the multi-faceted solutions that are needed to improve food policy and prevent obesity.

Dr. Wang, a nutrition policy expert, will discuss some of the work conducted at the Mailman School by faculty from the Obesity Prevention Initiative, which drew researchers from different disciplines to consider interdisciplinary solutions. She will also address the progress of various initiatives, including soda tax petitions in different cities and countries, and the importance of working at the community level.

In her scholarship, she focuses on developing and evaluating policies to promote healthy choices and to address the obesity epidemic in adults and in children. Wang has evaluated several state and city-level policies such as a penny-an-ounce excise tax on soda and portion size cap on sugary drinks served in restaurants. Her research assesses the cost-effectiveness of broad-reaching policy strategies to improve dietary choices, especially among school children and individuals who are food insecure. Most recently, Dr. Wang was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellow, where she spent a year in Washington D.C. working at the nexus of health science, policy, and politics and actively participating in health policy formation at the federal level. She has been serving in the US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health.

Mr. Bittman has helped shift the national conversation on food from cooking and eating to the political and social forces behind our diet and makes the case that food choices on every level shape our health as individuals, communities, and a planet. He has argued on behalf of the potential for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a.k.a. food stamps, to curb obesity through restricting the purchase of sweetened drinks. A crucial next step, he says would be to limit the advertising of junk food to children. As a champion of the need to break free from the standard American diet, he argues that one of the most important things we can do is eat less meat. And to counter the likes of Coca-Cola and McDonalds, Bittman says that we need public health campaigns and legal agreements along the lines of the tobacco settlements.

The theme of the 2016-17 Dean’s Ground Rounds on the Future of Public Health is Team Science for the Public’s Health. The lecture which takes place on January 25 is open to the public and held on the Columbia University Medical campus, Alumni Auditorium, 650 West 168 Street, NYC 10032.

Talks are also broadcast live online. Participate using Participate using #TeamScience on Twitter. For more information visit: Grand Rounds 2016