Peter G Kopelman
Obesity is now so common within the world's population that it is beginning to replace undernutrition and infectious diseases as the most significant contributor to ill health. Major advances in the understanding of overweight and obesity have confirmed that they constitute an important medical condition. A better understanding of the genetic contribution to both weight gain and the intra-abdominal distribution of fat (central obesity) is identifying certain ethnic groups and susceptible families who are specifically at risk. In addition, there is increasing awareness that overweight and obesity are key factors in the development of other chronic diseases, in particular type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease, and contribute to the high mortality rates of such diseases. 1 Obesity can no longer be regarded simply as a cosmetic problem affecting certain individuals, but an epidemic that requires effective measures for its prevention and management.