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Special Article
February 9, 2004

The Escalating Pandemics of Obesity and Sedentary Lifestyle: A Call to Action for Clinicians

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Preventive Medicine and Channing Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Mass (Dr Manson); Division of Preventive Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Health Publications, Harvard Medical School, Boston (Mr Skerrett); Department of Preventive Medicine, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago Ill (Dr Greenland); and Obesity Research Center, St Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, and Department of Medicine, Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons, New York, NY (Dr VanItallie). The authors have no relevant financial interest in this article.

Arch Intern Med. 2004;164(3):249-258. doi:10.1001/archinte.164.3.249

Obesity and sedentary lifestyle are escalating national and global epidemics that warrant increased attention by physicians and other health care professionals. These intricately linked conditions are responsible for an enormous burden of chronic disease, impaired physical function and quality of life, at least 300 000 premature deaths, and at least $90 billion in direct health care costs annually in the United States alone. Clinicians are on the front line of combat, yet these conditions receive minimal attention during a typical office visit. Clinicians often feel overwhelmed by these challenges and point to an absence of clear guidelines and practice tools, minimal training in behavior modification strategies, and lack of time as reasons for failing to confront them. This report provides a "call to action" with step-by-step guidelines specifically directed at the pivotal role of physicians and other health care professionals in curbing these dangerous epidemics. This blueprint for action, which requires only a few minutes of a clinician's time to implement, will facilitate more effective intervention related to obesity and inactivity and should favorably impact public health.

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