Obesity Definitions: Then and Now

Yesterday, at the 29th Scientific Meeting of The Obesity Society, I spoke at a session on the history of obesity, hosted by George Bray and David Haslam, author of Fat, Gluttony and Sloth: Obesity in Literature, Art, and Medicine.

In my talk, I discussed the history of the Quetelet Index, later named the Body Mass Index by Ancel Keys; I spoke about its limitations in clinical practice and presented the Edmonton Obesity Staging System (EOSS) and our latest data showing that this staging system is a far better predictor of mortality than BMI (or waist circumference).

Although it is far too early to know whether or not EOSS (or a variation thereof) will eventually be more widely used in clinical practice, research and policy, I could not but sense that the audience fully appreciated the need for a clinical obesity staging system, which characterizes how ‘sick’ rather than simply how ‘big’ patients are. Clearly, such a system is but a natural evolution in our thinking about obesity, especially its treatment.

Click here to download a short powerpoint presentation on the Edmonton Obesity Staging System.

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