Author Affiliation: Dr Fontanarosa is Interim Coeditor, JAMA.
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.
Fontanarosa PB. Patients, Physicians, and Weight Control. JAMA. 1999;282(16):1581-1582. doi:10.1001/jama.282.16.1581