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W. Philip T. James

and Tim Marsh

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date: 06 July 2022

Obesity is a rapidly escalating public health problem affecting most countries in the world. The recent Global Burden of Disease report identified high body mass index as the fastest growing risk factor for global health. This chapter analyses the problem of obesity from a public health perspective. It begins by considering definitions of overweight and obesity for adults and children. Definitions of abdominal obesity that are relevant in different populations are also described. The second section presents estimates and projections for the prevalence of overweight and obesity, and estimates for the burden of disease and healthcare costs associated with obesity. The final section outlines principles of energy balance in the context of trends in physical activity and energy intakes and considers particular dietary issues of concern. Finally, new approaches to the choice of the package of interventions needed are set out at the community and societal levels.

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