Knowledge for better food systems

Obesity now ranked as a chronic disease by the World Obesity Foundation in hope it will help encourage policy action

The World Obesity Federation has published its position statement recognising obesity as a disease in the journal Obesity reviews. The World Obesity Federation is an organization representing professional societies from many countries that focus on research, education and health care for people with obesity. The Federation has commissioned this statement to argue for the position that ‘Obesity is a chronic relapsing disease process’ and to serve as the basis for their position on this issue.

The statement is written by a scientific committee of the World Obesity Federation, taking the form of a review article by a group of expert advisers. It considers the argument for obesity as a chronic relapsing disease process and states that from an epidemiological model, food is the primary agent, particularly foods that are high in energy density such as fat, or in sugar-sweetened beverages.

A comment from World Obesity's senior policy officers was also published alongside the statement arguing that defining obesity as a disease increases society’s responsibility to prevent excess weight gain through population-wide interventions to promote optimum health. It outlines the implications for the World Obesity Federation's advocacy and public health activities given this new position statement. In it they state: “.. we argue that recognizing obesity as a disease can serve this function for those already overweight or obese whilst also strengthening the call for dealing with the social determinants, obesogenic environments and systemic causes of individual weight gain.”

The position adopted by World Obesity is now fully in accordance with the position taken by the World Health Organization in 1997, the American Medical Association in 2013 and by many of the World Obesity Federation’s member associations.

You can read the position statement here, the comment here and more from World Obesity Federation about the news here. There is also a blog-post available by the Federation’s Director, Dr Tim Lobstein here.

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