Partnering with Freakonomics to Find Unconventional Approaches to Ending Childhood Obesity

Mar 27, 2013, 4:55 PM, Posted by

Brian Quinn, assistant vice president, Research and Evaluation Brian Quinn, assistant vice president, Research and Evaluation

Solving intractable problems requires unconventional thinking. We recently partnered with some unconventional thinkers—the co-authors of Freakonomics—to convene a conversation on reducing the prevalence of childhood obesity. We were interested in this collaboration because the experts at Freakonomics have a proven track record of thinking creatively and vigorously; they look at difficult problems through new lenses. 

The eclectic group of participants included:

  • A Nobel Prize winning psychologist,
  • A passionate education reform advocate,
  • An entrepreneur dedicated to improving health care in the developing world,
  • Professors of epidemiology and economics, and
  • Other diverse leaders from related fields.

This endeavor showed us the value of bringing in non-traditional partners who care about the same issues we do. Innovators from other fields look at health problems differently, drawing on their own expertise.

The convening produced a great discussion, but of course, there are no easy answers. Childhood obesity is a complex challenge. We need to keep exploring and pressing ourselves to find innovative solutions.

Listen to the day’s discussion over at Freakonomics.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Pioneering Ideas blog.