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Editorial
October 27, 1999

Patients, Physicians, and Weight Control

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Dr Fontanarosa is Interim Coeditor, JAMA.

JAMA. 1999;282(16):1581-1582. doi:10.1001/jama.282.16.1581

Preoccupation with body weight, fitness, and diet pervades today's society. Nearly one half of US women and more than one third of US men report that they are attempting to lose weight.1 Interest in physical activity, at least as evidenced by scores of joggers, in-line skaters, bicyclists, and walkers, seems to be increasing. Health clubs and fitness centers have proliferated, and home exercise equipment is readily available. Low-calorie, low-fat, "healthy" foods are featured prominently in restaurants and on supermarket shelves. The popular media provide substantial information about the relationship between diet and health, both in feature stories and in catchy advertisements; even reports of preliminary research that offer a glimmer of hope for a "cure" for obesity are often met with much fanfare. Several pharmacological agents, numerous over-the-counter products, and various dietary interventions are widely touted (but mostly unproven) as ways to achieve successful weight control. Not surprisingly, consumers spend billions of dollars each year for weight loss products and services, often in the quest for a quick fix to lose excess weight.

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