Questions for ‘Cool Jobs: Brainy ways to battle obesity’


Researchers in different fields are helping crack the science of obesity.

Jonathan Cohen / Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

To accompany feature ‘Cool Jobs: Brainy ways to battle obesity’


Before reading:

1.    When are you most likely to make healthy food choices? When are you most likely to eat unhealthy foods?

2.    What do you think are some factors that lead to obesity?

During reading:

1.    What fraction of U.S. children and teenagers are obese?

2.    What are some of health problems that have been linked to obesity?

3.    If you have a smartphone, what is one way you might use it to help you make healthy food choices?

4.    If you snack while watching television, what are two few ways the story notes that you could limit your “mindless eating”?

5.    What is one way manufacturers can encourage people to buy healthier foods?

6.    What is optogenetics?

7.    Why do researchers in Domingos’ study use mice for some of their work?

8.    Why do mice prefer sugar over artificial sweeteners?

9.    What are adipocytes?

10.  How might a medicine be used to break down fat?

After reading:

1.    How would you summarize the ways in which our brains can help us lose weight or prevent too much weight gain in the first place?

2.    Using Cavallo’s work as your inspiration, describe at least three ways you think social media and smartphones could be used to encourage healthful eating habits. Be creative!

3.    Put together a list of four suggestions that might help an overweight member of your family limit overeating.


1.    There are 74.2 million people under 18 in the United States. If one-sixth of them are obese, how many people is that? What percentage of 74.2 million is that? (Show your work.)

2.    According to the story, people who watched an action movie ate 65 percent more calories than people who watched a talk show. Those who watched the same move without sound at 46 percent more calories than those watching a talk show. If someone watching a talk show ate 220 calories in 20 minutes, how many calories would the same person eat while watching 20 minutes of an action movie? What about while watching 20 minutes of an action movie on mute? (Show your work.)