Yale Peabody's 'Big Food': A catalyst for healthy lifestyle changes
“Big Food: Health, Culture, and the Evolution of Eating,” the latest exhibition at the Yale Peabody Museum, has not only attracted record crowds to the museum, it has inspired tens of thousands of individuals to change their eating habits for the better.
The exhibition has attracted over 40,000 visitors since it opened in February. In March, “Big Food” set a record for the most monthly visitors to the Peabody in a decade.
The exhibition begins with a visual representation of the amount of food the average American consumes annually and finishes with a challenge for visitors to reflect on their role in personal and community health, and the sustainability of our food system. More than 45,000 individuals — both at the museum and online — have committed to take a stand for healthier lifestyles in the last section of the exhibition, “Evidence to Action.”
Visitors have the opportunity to explore the neuroscience of appetite, the genetics of obesity, and how the body stores food and energy; our behavioral choices in nutrition and exercise, and the influence of social, environmental, and cultural context; and today’s societal pressures, such as the growth of portion sizes and media influences on food preferences.
The interactive aspects of “Big Food” — including online games such as “Strike a Balance!” and “Smash Your Food!” — are designed to educate and engage people everywhere. Individuals can use the “Big Food” online application to set healthy goals for themselves, their families, and their communities. In a video produced in conjunction with the exhibition, Yale experts discuss how modern eating habits have contributed to a major increase in obesity in the United States.
“The powerful feedback we’ve received from visitors on how ‘Big Food’ has changed their lives affirms that the exhibition has energized people to bring evidence to action,” said Yale professor Jeannette Ickovics, curator of the exhibition and director of the Community Alliance for Research and Engagement (CARE) at the Yale School of Public Health.
The exhibition, which is on display through Dec. 2, is a collaboration between the Peabody, CARE, and the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.
Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation is the presenting sponsor of the exhibition. “The overall aim of ‘Big Food’ is in perfect alignment with Anthem’s mission, to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve,” said Dr. Eina G. Fishman, MD, chief medical officer at Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield. “This exhibition gives the public information about obesity and empowers them with the tools to make healthy lifestyle changes.
In addition to support from Anthem, the exhibition is funded by The Patrick and Catherine Weldon Donaghue Medical Research Foundation; General Electric healthymagination; Community Foundation for Greater New Haven; Yale-New Haven Hospital; Yale Schools of Public Health and Medicine; The Anna Fitch Ardenghi Trust, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee; IKEA New Haven; Blue State Coffee; and Chamard Vineyards.