Obesity: a 100 year perspective

Int J Obes (Lond). 2024 May 7. doi: 10.1038/s41366-024-01530-6. Online ahead of print.


This review has examined the scientific basis for our current understanding of obesity that has developed over the past 100 plus years. Obesity was defined as an excess of body fat. Methods of establishing population and individual changes in levels of excess fat are discussed. Fat cells are important storage site for excess nutrients and their size and number affect the response to insulin and other hormones. Obesity as a reflection of a positive fat balance is influenced by a number of genetic and environmental factors and phenotypes of obesity can be developed from several perspectives, some of which have been elaborated here. Food intake is essential for maintenance of human health and for the storage of fat, both in normal amounts and in obesity in excess amounts. Treatment approaches have taken several forms. There have been numerous diets, behavioral approaches, along with the development of medications.. Bariatric/metabolic surgery provides the standard for successful weight loss and has been shown to have important effects on future health. Because so many people are classified with obesity, the problem has taken on important public health dimensions. In addition to the scientific background, obesity through publications and organizations has developed its own identity. While studying the problem of obesity this reviewer developed several aphorisms about the problem that are elaborated in the final section of this paper.

Publication types

  • Review