Obesity has reached epidemic proportions - urgent need for research

Every second German is too fat, every fifth even suffers from pathological obesity (adiposity). Obesity is not only a burden, but also causes physical disorders, some of which may prove fatal. The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) invited 40 experts from all over the world to a discussion forum entitled "Genetics, Diet and Disease - Consequences of Obesity" at Leipzig University. Under the chairmanship of Prof. Dr. med. Wieland Kiess, Director of Leipzig University's Children's Clinic, the scientists discussed the causes and effects of obesity and defined the areas where research is urgently needed.

The researchers attending the forum called for the development of guidelines to support doctors and patients in their struggle against "obesity", which has now reached epidemic proportions. Research into adiposity must be intensified and individual projects brought into combination; in particular, we know too little about the side-effects and consequences of obesity. Wide-ranging studies of affected families will have to be undertaken to form an adequate basis for scientists addressing these questions. It is also not clear how hereditary predisposition and a person's way of life influence the genesis of obesity; comprehensive molecular-biological research is required for this.

The chairman, Prof. Dr. Kiess, declared that "Obesity is the prime pathological risk factor today". For the obese, the chances of contracting an illness are several times higher than they are for slim people. Fat people are not only threatened by cardiovascular disorders, but also by diabetes, arteriosclerosis and renal disorders. If a hereditary predisposition is exacerbated by additional dietary deficiencies and lack of exercise, then the pounds will accumulate almost inevitably. "Today, it is almost normal to be obese", stated Prof. Claude Bouchard, co-publisher of the International Handbook on Obesity and Adiposity during the meeting in Leipzig. "Early diagnosis and treatment o

Contact: Dr. Heike Velke
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

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