Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

GW Commentary on Young Adult Obesity, An Essential Focus to Reverse Obesity Epidemic

The overall burden of the U.S. obesity epidemic continues to require new thinking. Prevention of obesity in young adults, while largely ignored as a target for prevention and study, will be critical to reversing the epidemic, says Dr. William Dietz, chair of the Sumner M. Redstone Global Center for Prevention and Wellness at the Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH) at the George Washington University (GW). In an editorial in the July 18 Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr. Dietz describes the data to support his observations: a public health focus on this period of high risk–for not only the development of obesity, but also for excessive weight gain–could have a significant impact on U.S. rates of obesity, additional obesity-related diseases, costs, and premature death, and “should be accorded a high priority.”

[Photo: Dr. William Dietz]

Dr. Dietz notes that prevention efforts have focused primarily on children and adolescents, yet the prevalence of obesity roughly doubles between pre-adolescence (17 percent among six to 11-year-old children) and young adulthood (34 percent among 20- to 39-year-old adults). Because young adults are often parents or soon-to-be parents, prevention of obesity in this age group may also reduce the prevalence of obesity in their children.

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