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November 27, 2013

The Merits of Subtyping ObesityOne Size Does Not Fit All

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health
  • 2Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School
  • 3Division of Adolescent Medicine, Department of Medicine, Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 4Department of Emergency Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
  • 5Department of Pathology, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School
  • 6Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston
JAMA. 2013;310(20):2147-2148. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.281501

In the United States, approximately 70% of adults and 33% of children and adolescents are overweight or obese.1,2 Although it is widely accepted that there are a variety of genetic, behavioral, and environmental determinants, the strength of the associations of individual risk factors with obesity is only small to moderate. Other than bariatric surgery, no pharmacologic or behavioral weight loss treatments have been found to consistently result in large sustained weight losses. One reason for the lack of stronger associations with risk factors or more consistently successful treatment is that all types of overweight and obesity are often grouped together. This approach potentially obscures strong associations between risk factors and specific subtypes of obesity.

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