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Prevalence of Obesity: A Public Health Problem Poorly Understood

Theresa A. Nicklas Carol E. ONeil

*Corresponding author: Theresa A. Nicklas tnicklas@bcm.edu

aimsph2014,2,109doi:10.3934/publichealth.2014.2.109

This review article discusses the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) in support of a total diet approach to achieving diet and health goals, especially as they relate to the obesity epidemic. However, some scientists and organizations have identified one food, food group, or nutrient as the cause of the obesity epidemic and recommend that simply reducing that food/food group/nutrient will solve the problem. This is simplistic and unlikely to be effective in long term management of the obesity problem. This article also acknowledges discrepancies in the literature and the lack of consensus opinions from systematic reviews. Failure to consider the evidence as a whole can lead to inaccurate reports which may, in turn, adversely influence clinical practice, public policy, and future research. This article also considers where the line should be drawn between individual choice and responsibility and public regulation. Using sugar sweetened beverages as an example, the article considers the lack of a consistent association between added sugars and weight in the literature and calls for policy recommendations that are based on science and emphasizes the need for evidence-based policies rather than policy-based evidence.

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