Obesity Solutions, a partnership between ASU and the Mayo Clinic beginning Thursday, will challenge the ASU community to design an innovative solution to the obesity problem.
The challenge is open to all students, faculty, staff and alumni with a prize of up to $10,000 in funding to help the winning solution translate from a research scenario to the real world.
The Obesity Solutions Funding Challenge begins Thursday with a kick-off event at Changemaker Central in the Memorial Union on the Tempe campus from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. The challenge officially ends March 3 at 11:59 p.m.
Obesity Solutions Director of Operations Alexandra Brewis Slade said Obesity Solutions aims to “make campus, Maricopa County and Arizona a healthier place,” and the funding challenge will help generate ideas to carry out that goal.
Brewis Slade said obesity is more than a medical problem, and it must be tackled from all directions.
She said every type of challenge has a solution, and obesity is an “exciting” problem to tackle.
“Although we don’t have any preconvictions, and we have no idea what type of solutions will be submitted, we will be responsive to out-of-the-box solutions,” Brewis Slade said.
Obesity Solutions Associate Director Deborah Williams said they wanted to see broad solutions that could translate to the real world.
Although no one has pre-registered for the event, Williams said students and faculty have shown interest.
“There are many great ideas out there, and we want to hear them,” she said. “We want to leverage the talent at ASU.”
Global health first year doctorate student Mariya Voytyuk was a teaching assistant in Brewis Slade’s and Williams’s undergraduate global health practicum class last semester.
She was involved with the Well Devils Freshman Challenge and helped collect data from the wellness zones on all four campuses.
Beginning in March, Voytyuk will help conduct focus groups that will assess how students view their health and what they believe they need to live a healthy lifestyle while at ASU.
“We want to know what issues are important to students and what health concerns they have,” she said. “Maybe some students believe obesity isn’t a problem, and maybe other students believe we need to focus on the negative effects of stress and how expensive it can be to live a healthy lifestyle.”
Voytyuk said they will also look at health-related stigmas and negative views on body image.
“There is a problem that needs to be addressed,” she said. “There is a lot going on and students are excited about this. Obesity Solutions is a great opportunity to go out in the field and assess this problem.”
ASU Executive Vice President and Director of Obesity Solutions Elizabeth Phillips said in an email that ASU has the necessary resources for such a program.
“Most universities are not as transdisciplinary or willing to work to solve a real world problem,” she said. “We are designed to do that.”
Phillips said Obesity Solutions is working on different programs to reach out to communities throughout the state.
“We hope to improve the health and well-being of all the students, faculty and staff at ASU, and also improve the health of citizens in Arizona,” she said. “It is all very exciting and important.”
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