Big Food: Health, Culture and the Evolution of Eating

Food is fundamental to life. Yet, our eating habits have become incredibly complex, involving many aspects of daily life far beyond addressing simple nutritional needs. The increased consumption of unhealthy food and sedentary lifestyles mean excess weight and obesity now surpass under-nourishment as the world's leading food and nutrition problem. Big Food  begins with a startling visual of the amount of food the average American eats and finishes with a challenge for visitors to reflect on their role in personal and community health and the sustainability of our food system. In between it examines behavioral choice in nutrition and exercise as well as the influence of social, environmental, and cultural settings. Using an engaging multi-media and family-friendly approach, visitors will investigate our origins as hunter-gatherers; explore societal pressures such as the progressive growth of portion sizes; tackle media influences on food preferences; and consider serious health consequences that have increased the burden of chronic diseases, including diabetes and heart disease.





This film introduces the main themes of Big Food: our evolutionary history, our complex food environment, and the serious health consequences of obesity.  



Strike a Balance!


Finding your energy balance can be tricky.  Play this interactive game to test your skills.  Get across this shark-infested pool by staying in balance. You can get points in two ways: eat healthy foods and exercise, and stay on the tightrope! Having an occasional treat  (like ice cream or French fries) is fine,  just make sure you exercise more.  Being overweight or obese is linked to serious health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and many cancers. Striking a balance helps us to stay healthy.

Click here to play a larger size version of the game


Visitors can play the fun game Smash Your Food to see what is in that strawberry milkshake and cheeseburger! To play Smash Your Food online (as well as other fun nutrition games) go to


Big Food: Health, Culture and the Evolution of Eating is a collaboration between the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, CARE: Community Alliance for Research and Engagement at the Yale School of Public Health, and the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.


Presenting Sponsor: Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation




We would also like to thank the following organizations for their generous support of this exhibition: The Patrick and Catherine Weldon Donaghue Medical Research Foundation, General Electric healthymagination, Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, Yale-New Haven Hospital, Yale School of Medicine, The Anna Fitch Ardenghi Trust, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee, Blue State Coffee, and the Yale University Department of Anthropology.