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Carnegie Mellon University, School of Design

Bhakapol Bhakdibhumi, Chris Han, Jasmin Kim, Holly Liu, Francis Park


Upon first glance, obesity might be seemingly easy to solve— eat healthily, go to the gym and lose weight. Unbeknownst to a vast majority of the public, this problem has engulfed almost 37% of the American population with systemic issues affecting a myriad of demographics. This is exactly what makes it a wicked problem (Rittel & Webber, 1973). Layers of systemic and systematic interconnectivity bury complications from the public eye, making large-scale issues like obesity difficult to tackle. Our group aims to uncover this complex system by analyzing the problem with a scalar approach, allowing a multitude of stakeholders to place themselves within distinct problem spaces throughout a micro-to-macro scope. By pinpointing clusters of defects and flaws, then filtering them through STEEP (Social, Technological, Economic, Ecologic, Political) lenses, the map clarifies interdependencies within the various aspects of our daily lives. Through this process of breakdown and analysis, we were able to identify harmful feedback loops and formulate targeted interventions to break the cycle. Our gigamap presents a complex system in an accessible format aiming to provoke a unifying interaction amongst users, inform at all levels, hopefully, engage them to get to a healthier America.


Rittel, H. W. J., & Webber, M. M. (1973). Dilemmas in a general theory of planning. Policy Sciences, 4(2), 155–169. doi: 10.1007/bf01405730


Author. (2020). Article title. In Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSD9) 2020 Symposium. India, October 9-17, 2020.

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Citation Data

Author(s): Carnegie Mellon University, School of Design, USA. Interdependencies, harmful feedback loops, and interventions to break the cycle of obesity.
Title: Obesity Epidemic
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Article No.:
Symposium Dates:
First published: 2 October 2020
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