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November 7, 1986

'Obesity Many Disorders;' Causes Sought in Genes, Neurochemistry, Psychology

JAMA. 1986;256(17):2301-2302. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03380170017003

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WHILE THE HYPOTHALAMUS almost certainly plays the role of conductor in the composition of body weight, when the performance hits a snag, the blame could just as easily lie in the orchestra pit as at the podium.

This is the current, more sophisticated, and—at times—more bewildering view of the etiology of obesity, one reflected by a Conference on Human Obesity held recently in New York City. Throughout the three-day conference, participants stressed what they believe is the major message of the meeting: obesity is many disorders.

Although this is not a new message—obesity experts have long suspected it—the quality of the supporting evidence is greatly improving, in the opinion of many specialists. It raises hope that in the not too distant future, clinicians may be able to identify subgroups of obese persons and target therapies to their specific problem, much in the way they tailor treatment of anemia, hypertension, and