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June 8, 1994

Parity, Ponderosity, and the Paradox of a Weight-Preoccupied Society

Author Affiliations

From the Channing Laboratory (Drs Manson, Colditz, and Stampfer) and the Division of Preventive Medicine (Dr Manson), Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and the Departments of Epidemiology (Drs Colditz and Stampfer) and Nutrition (Dr Stampfer), Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Mass. Dr Manson is the recipient of a Merck-Society for Epidemiologic Research award. Drs Stampfer and Colditz are investigators of a study assessing the long-term effects of rapid weight loss under a grant from Sandoz Nutrition Co, Minneapolis, Minn.

JAMA. 1994;271(22):1788-1790. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510460080038

The epidemic of obesity in America shows no sign of abating. In contrast to a favorable secular trend in other coronary risk factors, the prevalence of obesity continues to escalate in the United States.1,2 At present, one quarter to one third of US adults are overweight,3 and at least 34 million can be classified as obese, defined as the equivalent of weight 20% or more above desirable levels.4 Women and minorities, including African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, and Pacific Islanders, are at particular risk of obesity.5 The prevalence of obesity in the United States is higher than that in Canada, Europe, Australia, and most other regions.6 The relative contributions of cultural and economic factors, educational attainment, diet, physical activity patterns, parity levels, and differences in perceptions about health risks are unclear and require elucidation. Although obesity commonly emerges in traditional societies

See also p 1747.

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