Nestle, Marion Department of Home Economics and Nutrition, Division of Education, New York University, New York, New York.
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The presence of excess body fat that confers numerous risks to health. Obesity is an excessive accumulation of adipose tissue (body fat) that typically leads to a variety of health risks, including diabetes, cardiovascular disorders, arthritis, and some types of cancerous tumors. The risk to health is determined by the amount of body fat, the distribution of body fat, and the presence of other risk factors. Because of the great prevalence of obesity, its severe consequences for physical and mental health, and the difficulty of treating it, the prevention of obesity is a major public health priority. A significant step was taken when the American Medical Association, the largest physician organization in the United States, officially classified obesity as a disease that requires a range of medical interventions to advance treatment and prevention. In particular, because more than one-third of adults and approximately one-fifth of children in the United States are recognized as obese (Fig. 1), the designation of obesity as a disease is expected to prompt the medical community and public policy makers to support further interventions and research into obesity prevention and treatment. See also: Adipose tissue; Disease; Epidemic of obesity; Medicine; Obesity classified as a disease; Public health
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