, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 147–155

Treatment and prevention of obesity: What works, what doesn’t work, and what might work


DOI: 10.1007/s11745-003-1045-5

Cite this article as:
Allison, D.B. & Weber, M.T. Lipids (2003) 38: 147. doi:10.1007/s11745-003-1045-5


We provide a very broad conceptual overview of some of the issues involved in the treatment and prevention of obesity. Data suggest that clinicians have some ability to promote positive changes with obesity treatment. The environment, though important in influencing one’s degree of adiposity, has largely transient effects that do not tend to carry over from one time to substantially later times. In contrast, the genetic influences on body mass index at any one time do tend to carry over to later times. This information influences the types of approaches that are and are not likely to be successful in terms of preventing obesity or reducing obesity on a population level. A second issue concerns the composition of weight lost. Conditional on fat loss, weight loss has been associated with an increased mortality rate (MR) whereas, conditional upon weight loss, fat loss has been associated with a decreased MR. This suggests that we should seek treatments that maximize the proportion of weight lost as fat. Third, the efficacy of current treatments is far below patients’ expectations and desires. We need both to increase the efficacy of our treatments dramatically and help patients adjust their expectations so that they can take satisfaction in smaller weight losses. Perhaps, with continued efforts at enhancing treatments, we will see incremental advances in the treatment and prevention of obesity.



body mass index


Diabetes Prevention Program


mortality rate


socioeconomic status

Copyright information

© AOCS Press 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of NursingUniversity of Texas at ArlingtonTexas
  2. 2.Section on Statistical Genetics, Clinical Nutrition Research CenterUniversity of Alabama at BirminghamBirmingham

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