by Marion Nestle
Aug 27 2011

The Lancet’s series on obesity

The British journal, The Lancet, has a special series of papers on obesity and obesity policy, just out.

Don’t miss the Body Weight Simulator! It’s great fun to play with while waiting out a hurricane.

You type in your age, weight, and height (you can change the metrics to pounds and inches), and indicate your activity level.  It tells you how many calories you can eat every day to maintain that weight (Yikes!  That’s all? No wonder I have so much trouble).

It also tells you how many calories you need to reduce in order to lose weight over whatever time period you specify.

And here are the papers, reviews, and commentaries (you will need to log in to read more than the summary):

The future challenge of obesity
David King
Full Text | PDF

Reversing the tide of obesity
William H Dietz
Full Text | PDF

Where next for obesity
Harry Rutter
Full Text | PDF

The global obesity pandemic: shaped by global drivers and local environments
Boyd A Swinburn, Gary Sacks, Kevin D Hall, Klim McPherson, Diane T Finegood, Marjory L Moodie, Steven L Gortmaker
Summary | Full Text | PDF

Health and economic burden of the projected obesity trends in the USA and the UK
Y Claire Wang, Klim McPherson, Tim Marsh, Steven L Gortmaker, Martin Brown
Summary | Full Text | PDF

Quantification of the effect of energy imbalance on bodyweight
Kevin D Hall, Gary Sacks, Dhruva Chandramohan, Carson C Chow, Y Claire Wang, Steven L Gortmaker, Boyd A Swinburn
Summary | Full Text | PDF

Changing the future of obesity: science, policy, and action
Steven L Gortmaker, Boyd A Swinburn, David Levy, Rob Carter, Patricia L Mabry, Diane T Finegood, Terry Huang, Tim Marsh, Marjory L Moodie
Summary | Full Text | PDF


  • D

    Daily News Editorial Board Cites the Lancet series here:
    Medical journal’s call for war on obesity makes feds look foolish for refusing soda with food stamps

  • The real problem I have with this series of papers is that they’ve missed entirely the point of having freedom, liberty or even doctors and a medical system. The aim is that we get to chart our own path from the cradle to the inevitable grave. If we want that to be a short but fat and jolly one then we’ll be obese. If we don’t then no doubt we’ll eat yurts and knit bean sprouts into dwellings as some would like us to.

  • ksol

    Unfortunately, the body weight simulator doesn’t allow you to enter your body fat percentage, if you know it. Although not skinny, I’m relatively muscular for woman my size, and it overestimates my starting body fat percentage by 2.6%.

  • Anna

    Great observation, Donnie! It does appear MDs and the medical profession are being systematically marginalized in this populist crusade by cloistered PhDs and generic junior college know-it-alls. Ironically, “medical costs” are often held up as justification for Nanny State intervention. The hackneyed economic argument is not convincing.

  • Well, now I know why I can’t lose any weight. That thing is telling me I need to starve myself!

  • Mitzi

    Hi. Ph.D.s and MDs get pretty animated about this, because we often work in colleges and medical schools in urban areas. I work in a very unhealthy city, and go to work every day down streets on which people are driving motorized wheelchairs as vehicles. Many of these people are severely obese, with NO FEET due to diabetes. I dare those who oppose all government intervention to come to the hospital district near the Med in downtown Memphis for a few days, hanging out on Madison between the ambulatory clinic and the grocer down the street. You’ll want SOMEONE to intervene after that. I shop where they do, and see diabetics buying the processed food that fuels their decline with food stamps. It makes me want to cry that my taxes fuel the sickness and decline of many people in my community. I hope our government officials pay attention to the damage our well-intentioned “war on poverty” has done in giving people too much of the wrong food and not enough of the right food, and re-align all government programs (subsidies, food stamps, etc.) to match the MyPlate standards. There are no sodas on that diagram. It would make a really good start. And might reduce the future number of footless obese people in wheelchairs. I hope our government officials read the articles above, drive past a hospital on the poor side of town once in a while, and think.

  • Miles

    A rather self-important discussion by Nestle & company. I had no idea obesity-related diabetes is the only disease of importance in the US; no more infectious disease, traumatic injury, complications from childbirth, cancer…none of those mundane old-fashioned maladies persist, apparently. Tunnel vision (and no small measure of ego), maybe that’s why MDs are treated as superfluous to radical “public health” solutions to the “obesity crisis”? Appealing to politicians to single out and punish the poverty stricken simply cannot be innocently intended to curb obesity; such a simple-minded crusade would certainly result in dismal failure. There must be more to this fishy story and its feigned urgency.

  • Mitzi

    It isn’t just diabetes. How about heart disease, strokes that leave people disabled and helpless for years, TIAs that take their minds bit by bit, common cancers a poor man or woman cannot afford to get treated even with Medicare (more common and more severe in African Americans and the obese), arthritis that crushes joints along with the crushing weight of obesity? If you don’t see a crisis, again I would dare you to come to Memphis, or any city in the Mississippi delta region. A third of our people are already obese. A third more are overweight. The list of the sick at church is long, and most have completely preventable disease. The number of dialysis clinics here is amazing. There are multiple hospitals in each section of town. It isn’t about punishing the poor- they have already been punished by a system that subjects them to illnesses they cannot afford to treat properly. It is about remedying a situation our government helped to create. We also have high rates of infant and child mortality, and premature birth, as our people are malnourished and overnourished simultaneously on the government dole. So it isn’t just diabetes, and it isn’t a selfish discussion. I’d really like to see somebody educating the children of this city about proper nutrition and lifestyle, feeding them right, not leaving them in the dark in the name of “freedom”. Come here to Memphis and see what MDs are trying to do at the University of TN, St. Jude, Le Bonheur, and other medical facilities. I heard a presentation at St. Jude about the role of prenatal nutrition in reducing the incidence of certain childhood cancers. MDs are not superfluous to the discussion at all. They are ill-prepared, but trying to find ways to stop the tsunami of disease and heart-ache they see ahead. More can always be done, but we have to start somewhere, and it will take action at all levels (individual, medical, educational, national) to solve the problems before us.

  • ricard

    If “nanny state”, “cloistered PhD’s etc. are being invoked, then troll comments surely show deceitfulness, reckless disregard for the well-being of others, an inability to feel guilt, intentional blindness to scientific evidence and a willfulness to subvert or skirt the law.

  • Rebecca

    A medical journal publishes a bunch of articles, and the immediate response is charges of Nanny-state authoritarianism? Wow. I can’t imagine why you bother reading this site. Or any other that might contain information, since apparently *informed* choice is anti-freedom.

    On the calculator note… being short sucks! I suppose it’s easier on the planet to need relatively few calories, but 🙂 it doesn’t give much leeway for treats.

  • Marshall E. F.

    When “an inability to feel guilt” is invoked we instantly recognize in the cult-think underpinning the anti-obesity movement, elements of the finest traditions of religious guilt. That explains a lot about the quasi-religious fanaticism of proselytizing foodies, emoting notions commensurate with creationism theory to cheapen and demean the otherwise settled science of nutrition.

  • Anthro

    Marion, I did the Body Simulator and it seems to be telling me to GAIN weight! I went through the tutorial, but I think I must be doing something wrong. (do ya think?) 🙂

  • Tom B.

    I just re-read the whole series again and the bottomline is there is not one public policy proposal that has proven to work anywhere, ever. Instead of looking at obesity as the latest opportunity implement social engineering, why not make sure people are informed and then let them make their own choices. It is their body after all.

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