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October 24, 1986

Biology, Culture, Dietary Changes Conspire to Increase Incidence of Obesity

JAMA. 1986;256(16):2157-2158. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03380160015002

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THE SEDUCTIVE lure of haute cuisine and the dwindling light of winter days share billing with neurotransmitters and adipocyte metabolism in the vocabulary of obesity researchers today.

This language reflects an increasingly sophisticated approach to uncovering the cause of a disorder—obesity— that occurs in an estimated 12 million Americans. Paradoxically, in a society apparently seized by a "fitness craze," Americans have been getting fatter, according to data collected by the National Center for Health Statistics, Hyattsville, Md.

At a recent conference on human obesity sponsored by the New York Academy of Sciences, more than two dozen investigators gathered to take stock of developments in the field. Much of the work presented focused on biochemical changes associated with obesity. Coincident with this emphasis was detailed discussion of pharmacological interventions to promote weight loss.

"Overweight Is Risking Fate"  Mounting evidence that even moderate excess weight may be an independent risk factor for