WIN Wyoming and WIN the Rockies
Obesity and Genetics: A Public Health Perspective
The CDCís website devoted the public health perspective page in
February 2002 to obesity and genetics. For this monthís thought
bullets, I share with you some of the quotes, statistics, and
excerpts from the perspective page I found especially enlightening
- It is time to stop blaming the victim. People who struggle
with their weight are pushing against thousands of years of
evolution that has selected for storing energy as fat in times
of plenty for use in times of scarcity. It is time to recognize
their struggle, understand their challenges and support their
need for lifelong efforts to achieve better health.
- "Conventional wisdom has it that anyone who really wants
to become fit can do so. But when a few intrepid scientists
began asking ... they found that fitness, like weight loss, has
genetic underpinnings making it inherently much easier for some
to get fit than it is for others." [Quote from The New
York Times, February 12, 2002]
- Recent results of the National Health and Nutrition
Examination Survey (NHANES) 1999 indicate that an estimated 61%
of U.S. adults are either overweight or obese, defined as having
a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or more.
- "Today, in the developed world, the incidence of obesity
is rising and there are now as many obese people in the world as
there are people suffering from hunger." [Nature 404
(6778):631, April 6, 2000, Phillip Campbell and Ritu Dhand,
- "As a nation, we need to respond as vigorously to this
(obesity) epidemic as we do to an infectious disease
epidemic...National efforts are needed to encourage physical
activity and better nutrition and to conduct research to
identify effective educational, behavioral, and environmental
approaches to control and prevent obesity." [Jeffrey P.
Koplan, Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]
- Genes are not destiny, but they are a significant factor in
developing obesity. Some environmental variables manifest
themselves only on certain genotypes. Public health efforts must
dispel the notion that obesity represents an individual defect
in behavior with no biological basis. Obesity is increasingly
being viewed as a complicated interplay between genetics and
- Health problems associated with obesity could reverse health
gains achieved in the U.S. in recent decades. Increases in food
portion sizes seems to have led to the "supersizing"
of the American waistline.
Source: Website for the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, Public Health Perspective Series, February 2002,
Compiled by Betty Holmes, MS, RD
Return to Thought Bullets--main page.
Return to home page.