Obesity Epidemic


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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Posted Oct-2020


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Author(s) (20XX). Article title. In Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSDX) 20XX Symposium. City, Country, Month X-X, 20XX.

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Systems Mapping

Birger Sevaldson of the Oslo School of Architecture and Design first introduced the gigamap technique. The gigamap takes an architectural and descriptive approach to complex projects. The technique has been extended to synthesis maps and system design complexity maps.

The synthesis map is used at OCAD University to translate multiple knowledge perspectives and illustrate the dilemmas and challenges within a complex system scenario. System design complexity maps are the outcome of an academic project at the National Institute of Design. They use metaphor and a central theme to make complex issues accessible for sharing and participatory work with multiple stakeholders.

Types of Systemic Relations (Urban Habitat Design) by Birger Sevaldson, RSD5

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