Obesity Prevention

Authors: Vasanti Malik, Frank Hu


This chapter summarizes the global burden of obesity and the impact of a spectrum of obesity risk factors—ranging from sociopolitical and economic forces that prove largely beyond an individual’s control to modifiable lifestyle factors—and discusses genetic and epigenetic risks as well as the effectiveness of (1) population-based interventions and policies for preventing obesity; (2) some individual-level treatment options across various platforms; and (3) the cost-effectiveness of select interventions. Obesity remains a major contributor to preventable disease and death across the globe and poses a nearly unprecedented challenge to those tasked with addressing it at the public health, health care provider, and individual levels. Although economic growth and urbanization have reduced food insecurity and improved quality of life for many, they have also provided unhealthy diets and created environments promoting sedentary lifestyles, both of which lead to positive energy balance and weight gain. Continued surveillance of obesity and national health outcomes remains necessary to monitor and evaluate programs while maintaining awareness among the public and within governments.


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