The number of deaths per year attributable to obesity is roughly 30,000 in the UK and ten times that in the USA, where obesity is set to take over smoking in 2005 as the main preventable cause of illness and premature death. Excess body weight is the sixth most important risk factor contributing to the overall burden of disease worldwide and 1.1billion adults and 10% of children are now classified as obese. Despite these figures, neither the medical management nor the societal preventive challenges are currently being met, state seminar authors David Haslam (National Obesity Forum, UK) and Philip James (International Obesity Task Force).
The authors suggest that more collaboration between nursing, dietetic and physical-activity experts is needed to develop novel ways to tackle obesity.
Dr Haslam states: "The medical profession is only now waking up to the political and industrial challenges as well as the medical challengeOur new scientific understanding of obesity is helping to validate a new approach to tackling the problem but the response of the medical profession to both its management and prevention is still at an early stage."