Obesity Epidemic

Former Enron executive and one of America’s richest billionaires, John Arnold, is behind an operation funding cutting-edge new research programs on the nation’s obesity epidemic, reports NPR.

Arnold, 38, is one of the nation’s youngest billionaires, making his money in hedge funds after leaving Enron, the notorious energy and commodities Houston-based company that collapsed in bankruptcy after a widespread accounting scam was uncovered in 2001.

The operation receiving funding from the John and Laura Arnold Foundation is called Nutrition Science Initiative (NuSI), and intends to finance large-scale research studies exploring the many areas of the body affected by- and contributing to- obesity.

Despite Arnold’s ties to Enron, NuSI’s research will not be supported by corporate entities dominating the food and big-ag industries—a common practice that has compromised the integrity of research programs at universities and private research firms.

According to NPR, Arnold approached author and journalist Gary Taubes after hearing him discuss the obesity epidemic and the reason science is still struggling to find answers to the issue in a podcast. Taubes suggests that current beliefs about the obesity epidemic and certain dietary recommendations are fundamentally wrong, and based on poor science.  Arnold contributed $5 million in seed money to begin the more comprehensive and expensive studies into the obesity epidemic.

The NuSI project claims the research will provide the nation tools to significantly decrease obesity rates from the current 35 percent to as low as 15 percent; and diabetes could drop from eight to as low as two percent by 2020.

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Image: emilio labrador