Overweight and Health

November 15, 1967

Report Outline
Growing Medical Interest in Overweight
Dimensions of Problem of Excess Weight
Fresh Approaches to Overweight Problem
Special Focus

Growing Medical Interest in Overweight

Recognition of Obesity as Real Health Problem

Obesity is an ugly word doctors use to denote an excess accumulation of body fat that adds more than 10 per cent to the weight considered desirable for the health and well-being of an individual. One of the purposes of using the word is to shock the overly plump into weight-reducing action. Some do in fact find the diagnosis so displeasing that it firms their resolve to stick to a prescribed low-calorie diet. Others are so hurt that they are driven all the more to the comfort of over-eating.

Medical interest in weight control is not new but it is taking several new directions. Doctors have discovered that getting an overweight patient to reduce is not always so simple a proposition as it once seemed. The more that is learned about the physiological and psychological factors in weight gain and loss, the more complex these processes seem to be. Efforts to help the obese thin down are not among the medical profession's great success stories. A surprising number of patients seem unable to lose weight or to maintain a reduced weight. Doubts have arisen as to what actually constitutes an ideal weight for each individual. While excess fat is still regarded as a health handicap, some authorities have suggested that certain heavyweights might be better off as they are, if relieved of the pressure put on them to reduce.

One thing is not questioned: Overweight is a stubborn and very real medical problem in the United States, a byproduct of an affluent society with a sedentary population and an abundant food supply. “Obesity is one of the most prevalent health problems in the United States today,” according to Dr. Samuel M. Fox, chief of the Heart Disease Control Program of the National Center for Chronic Disease Control in the U.S. Public Health Service, “and it is regarded as abnormal by most physicians and laymen. …The higher mortality experience of obese persons and the additional hazard that obesity imposes in certain conditions make it a major health problem.”

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Mar. 16, 1990  Public-Health Campaigns: Do They Go Too Far?
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Nov. 15, 1967  Overweight and Health
Aug. 10, 1966  Dental Health
Jul. 13, 1966  Prolongation of Life
May 09, 1962  Outdoor Recreation
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Obesity and Weight Control