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A blog devoted to discussing best practices and questions about the role of genomics in disease prevention, health promotion and healthcare.

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Sharing the Burden of Obesity

Categories: genomics, obesity

world globe balanced on top of a scale including a DNA strand as the equatorOn May 7-9, the CDC Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, hosted a conference on Weight of the Nation™ in Washington, D.C.  The conference served to highlight progress in the prevention and control of obesity through policy and environmental strategies. The­ Weight of the Nation is also the title of an HBO Documentary Films and Institute of Medicine (IOM) film series that premieres May 14 and 15.

HBO’s The Weight of the Nation website explains that each of the four films in the series will feature “case studies, interviews with our nation’s leading experts, and individuals and their families struggling with obesity.” The first film examines the scope of the obesity epidemic and explores the serious health consequences of being overweight or obese. The second discusses what science has shown about how to lose weight, maintain weight loss and prevent weight gain; the third focuses on obesity in children. The fourth film, titled Challenges, offers a systems perspective on the combined effects of the major driving forces causing the obesity epidemic. These include complex social and environmental factors—such as agriculture, economics, and food marketing; cultural and behavioral factors—such as American food culture and physical inactivity; and evolutionary biology.

Any explanation of the obesity epidemic has to consider both genetics and the environment. One explanation that is often cited is the mismatch between today’s environment and “energy-thrifty genes” that emerged in the distant past, when food sources were unpredictable. Current research on genetic variation that affects response to changes in diet and physical activity is still at an early stage. An updated feature on obesity and genetics is available from CDC’s Office of Public Health Genomics, along with a new page summarizing some genetic research findings related to obesity.

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Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this blog is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy ».

  1. June 30, 2012 at 2:32 pm ET  -   EPJ

    I really think the genomic work is an important contribution to solving health problems. But I believe, so far, the genome is just one part of a complex interacting system in which the majority of variables are not in the genome but rather in the environment, and that would make difficult the reliable application of the data gathered. The challenge I see it as figuring the variables out and the responses too.

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