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      Prevention of Overweight and Obesity: How Effective is the Current Public Health Approach

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          Abstract

          Obesity is a public health problem that has become epidemic worldwide. Substantial literature has emerged to show that overweight and obesity are major causes of co-morbidities, including type II diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, various cancers and other health problems, which can lead to further morbidity and mortality. The related health care costs are also substantial. Therefore, a public health approach to develop population-based strategies for the prevention of excess weight gain is of great importance. However, public health intervention programs have had limited success in tackling the rising prevalence of obesity. This paper reviews the definition of overweight and obesity and the variations with age and ethnicity; health consequences and factors contributing to the development of obesity; and critically reviews the effectiveness of current public health strategies for risk factor reduction and obesity prevention.

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          Most cited references 115

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          Appropriate body-mass index for Asian populations and its implications for policy and intervention strategies.

           Michael Gnant (2004)
          A WHO expert consultation addressed the debate about interpretation of recommended body-mass index (BMI) cut-off points for determining overweight and obesity in Asian populations, and considered whether population-specific cut-off points for BMI are necessary. They reviewed scientific evidence that suggests that Asian populations have different associations between BMI, percentage of body fat, and health risks than do European populations. The consultation concluded that the proportion of Asian people with a high risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease is substantial at BMIs lower than the existing WHO cut-off point for overweight (> or =25 kg/m2). However, available data do not necessarily indicate a clear BMI cut-off point for all Asians for overweight or obesity. The cut-off point for observed risk varies from 22 kg/m2 to 25 kg/m2 in different Asian populations; for high risk it varies from 26 kg/m2 to 31 kg/m2. No attempt was made, therefore, to redefine cut-off points for each population separately. The consultation also agreed that the WHO BMI cut-off points should be retained as international classifications. The consultation identified further potential public health action points (23.0, 27.5, 32.5, and 37.5 kg/m2) along the continuum of BMI, and proposed methods by which countries could make decisions about the definitions of increased risk for their population.
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            Establishing a standard definition for child overweight and obesity worldwide: international survey.

            To develop an internationally acceptable definition of child overweight and obesity, specifying the measurement, the reference population, and the age and sex specific cut off points. International survey of six large nationally representative cross sectional growth studies. Brazil, Great Britain, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Singapore, and the United States. 97 876 males and 94 851 females from birth to 25 years of age. Body mass index (weight/height(2)). For each of the surveys, centile curves were drawn that at age 18 years passed through the widely used cut off points of 25 and 30 kg/m(2) for adult overweight and obesity. The resulting curves were averaged to provide age and sex specific cut off points from 2-18 years. The proposed cut off points, which are less arbitrary and more internationally based than current alternatives, should help to provide internationally comparable prevalence rates of overweight and obesity in children.
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              Body-mass index and incidence of cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective observational studies.

              Excess bodyweight, expressed as increased body-mass index (BMI), is associated with the risk of some common adult cancers. We did a systematic review and meta-analysis to assess the strength of associations between BMI and different sites of cancer and to investigate differences in these associations between sex and ethnic groups. We did electronic searches on Medline and Embase (1966 to November 2007), and searched reports to identify prospective studies of incident cases of 20 cancer types. We did random-effects meta-analyses and meta-regressions of study-specific incremental estimates to determine the risk of cancer associated with a 5 kg/m2 increase in BMI. We analysed 221 datasets (141 articles), including 282,137 incident cases. In men, a 5 kg/m2 increase in BMI was strongly associated with oesophageal adenocarcinoma (RR 1.52, p<0.0001) and with thyroid (1.33, p=0.02), colon (1.24, p<0.0001), and renal (1.24, p <0.0001) cancers. In women, we recorded strong associations between a 5 kg/m2 increase in BMI and endometrial (1.59, p<0.0001), gallbladder (1.59, p=0.04), oesophageal adenocarcinoma (1.51, p<0.0001), and renal (1.34, p<0.0001) cancers. We noted weaker positive associations (RR <1.20) between increased BMI and rectal cancer and malignant melanoma in men; postmenopausal breast, pancreatic, thyroid, and colon cancers in women; and leukaemia, multiple myeloma, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma in both sexes. Associations were stronger in men than in women for colon (p<0.0001) cancer. Associations were generally similar in studies from North America, Europe and Australia, and the Asia-Pacific region, but we recorded stronger associations in Asia-Pacific populations between increased BMI and premenopausal (p=0.009) and postmenopausal (p=0.06) breast cancers. Increased BMI is associated with increased risk of common and less common malignancies. For some cancer types, associations differ between sexes and populations of different ethnic origins. These epidemiological observations should inform the exploration of biological mechanisms that link obesity with cancer.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Int J Environ Res Public Health
                101238455
                International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
                Molecular Diversity Preservation International (MDPI)
                1661-7827
                1660-4601
                26 February 2010
                March 2010
                : 7
                : 3
                : 765-783
                Affiliations
                Department of Medicine & Therapeutics, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China; E-Mail: jeanwoowong@ 123456cuhk.edu.hk
                Author notes
                [* ] Author to whom correspondence should be addressed; E-Mail: ruthchansm@ 123456cuhk.edu.hk ; Tel.: +852-2252-8766; Fax: +852-2606-3500.
                Article
                ijerph-07-00765
                10.3390/ijerph7030765
                2872299
                20617002
                © 2010 by the authors; licensee Molecular Diversity Preservation International, Basel, Switzerland.

                This article is an open-access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution license ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/).

                Categories
                Review

                Public health

                obesity, public health, prevention

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