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Obesity is now a true epidemic and public health crisis that both clinicians and patients must face. Normal body weight is defined as a BMI of less than 25, overweight is defined as a BMI of 25.0–29.9, and obesity as a BMI greater than 30.

Risk assessment of the overweight and obese patient begins with determination of BMI, waist circumference for those with a BMI of 35 or less, presence of comorbid conditions, and a fasting blood glucose and lipid panel. Obesity is clearly associated with type 2 diabetes mellitus, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, cancer, osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease, obstructive sleep apnea, and asthma.

Obesity is associated with a higher all-cause mortality rate. Data suggest an increase among those with grades 2 and 3 obesity (BMI more than 35); however, the impact on all-cause mortality among overweight (BMI 25–30) and grade 1 obesity (BMI 30–35) is questionable. Persons with a BMI of 40 or higher have death rates from cancers that are 52% higher for men and 62% higher for women than the rates in men and women of normal weight.

In the Framingham Heart Study, overweight and obesity were associated with large decreases in life expectancy. Prevention of overweight and obesity involves both increasing physical activity and dietary modification to reduce caloric intake. Adequate levels of physical activity appear to be important for the prevention of weight gain and the development of obesity. Physical activity programs consistent with public health recommendations may promote modest weight loss (~2 kg); however, the amount of weight loss for any one individual is highly variable.

Clinicians can help guide patients to develop personalized eating plans to reduce energy intake, particularly by recognizing the contributions of fat, concentrated carbohydrates, and large portion sizes (see Chapter 29). Patients typically underestimate caloric content, especially when consuming food away from home. Providing patients with caloric and nutritional information may help address the current obesity epidemic.

Lifestyle modification, including diet, physical activity, and behavior therapy, has been shown to induce clinically significant weight loss. Other treatment options for obesity include pharmacotherapy and surgery (see Chapter 29). Counseling interventions or pharmacotherapy can produce modest (3–5 kg) sustained weight loss over 6–12 months. Counseling appears to be most effective when intensive and combined with behavioral therapy. Pharmacotherapy appears safe in the short term; long-term safety is still not established.

Commercial weight loss programs are effective in promoting weight loss and weight loss management. A randomized controlled trial of over 400 overweight or obese women demonstrated the effectiveness of a free prepared meal and incentivized structured weight loss program compared with usual care.

Weight loss strategies using dietary, physical activity, or behavioral interventions can produce significant improvements in weight among persons with prediabetes and a significant decrease in diabetes incidence. Lifestyle interventions including diet combined with physical activity are effective in achieving weight loss and reducing cardiometabolic risk factors among ...

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