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Washington, D.C. ranks 50th out of the 51 states for rates of obesity among adults. 23% of adults, 33% of teenagers, and 13% of toddlers are obese. This condition takes a toll on families who suffer other diseases brought on by obesity.  

In 2018, George Washington University (GW) Medical School tasked third year medical students with developing solutions to address obesity among women and children in Washington, D.C. 


Many universities focus on traditional population health methods, such as culling through the literature, analyzing trends in health and using well known frameworks to create local interventions.  However, GW wanted to add human centered design (HCD) as another problem solving technique. The goal was to integrate input from the community and to arm medical students with an understanding of the HCD methodology.


We created a workshop to practice human centered design with medical student leaders. The teams used design techniques to research, generate and pitch new ideas to address the obesity epidemic in Washington, D.C. 


The students were energized by the methods. And, the university leaders were impressed by the solutions students generated. The university committed to teach design to the next cohort of medical students. 

Photos: Sarah Minkis

We had the best obesity projects presented this year. The students understood the need to gather input from the community. We definitely want to teach human centered design to students in next year's program.  

Dean of Clinical Public Health

George Washington University Medical School

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