Due to the gastrointestinal tracts role in body weight regulation, gastroenterologists should work closely with other medical disciplines to oversee and coordinate the care of obese individuals, according to an American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Institute Obesity Task Force Report. The Report was published in a special 13th issue of Gastroenterology, the official journal of the AGA Institute, that focuses on the growing problems related to obesity and nutrition. The special issue of Gastroenterology presents a series of articles on the epidemiology of obesity, pathophysiology, associated disease and management.
An estimated 1.6 billion adults worldwide are overweight (body mass index [BMI]>25) and 400 million are obese (BMI>30), and potentially as many 20 million children are overweight. As obesity becomes an increasingly global problem, it is harder for government, institutions and individuals to continue to consider obesity as a problem of personal choice that can be controlled and even reversed by deciding to eat less and exercise more. The incidences of diabetes and other debilitating diseases attributable to obesity continue to rise along with the negative impact on healthcare budgets and various sectors of the economy leading to changing attitudes about the obesity epidemic.
As the AGA Institute Obesity Task Force examined the current and potential roles of the gastroenterology community in addressing the severe worldwide problem of obesity and its complications, we were encouraged to find a growing commitment to obesity-related research and development within the federal government, pharmaceutical and medical device industries, according to Lee M. Kaplan, MD, PhD, co-chair of the Obesity Task Force and director, Massachusetts General Hospital Weight Center.