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June 1970

The Management of Obesity: Patient Self-Help and Medical Treatment

Author Affiliations


From the departments of psychiatry (Dr. Stunkard and Mrs. Fox) and anthropology (Mr. Levine), University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

Arch Intern Med. 1970;125(6):1067-1072. doi:10.1001/archinte.1970.00310060145021

Health care needs of this country have increased so rapidly that they have already far outdistanced the supply of physicians and medical facilities. A major response to the current crisis in health care has been reorganization of traditional systems of delivery of medical care, together with a greatly increased use of paramedical personnel. In the face of our pressing health needs, one source of assistance has received curiously little attention, the self-help group. Perhaps the most widely known of these groups is Alcoholics Anonymous, but individuals have organized to help themselves with problems as varied as psychosis, ileostomy, and narcotics addiction. This report deals with Take Off Pounds Sensibly (TOPS), one of two large and rapidly growing national organizations for the control of obesity. The other such organization (Weight Watchers), although it is a commercial venture and thus not strictly a self-help group, is also worthy of careful study.


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