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The Lancet Commission On Obesity – A Global Approach To Globesity?

global-burden-disease2Obesity is a global problem – no country appears immune – the global direct and indirect costs in human and social costs are in the trillions.

Thus, The Lancet should no doubt be commended on partnering with the World Obesity Federation to constitute an international panel of 22 experts under the leadership of Boyd Swinburn (New Zealand) and William Dietz (USA) to

…stimulate action on obesity and strengthen accountability systems for the implementation of agreed recommendations to reduce obesity and its related inequalities and to develop new understandings of the underlying systems that are driving obesity in order to develop innovative approaches towards making those systems less obesogenic.

While (perhaps to my surprise) I have previously heard of only one of the panelists (Shiriki Kumanyika, Emeritus Professor of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, University of Pennsylvania), I am sure that all of the panelists bring a wide range of expertise to the table.

The overall mandate of the Commission is rather ambitious, with the following declared goals:

First, the Commission will stimulate action and strengthen accountability systems for the implementation of agreed recommendations to reduce obesity and its related inequalities at global and national levels.

Second, it will develop new understandings of the underlying systems that are driving obesity and also devise innovative approaches to reorient those systems in a sustainable and scalable way to encourage healthy weight.

Third, it will also establish mechanisms for regular, independent reporting on progress towards national and global obesity targets, implementation of recommended policies and actions, and specific systems analyses of obesity drivers and solutions.

Clearly, the Commission has its work cut out for it, as their goal is to address all underlying systems that are driving obesity, including nutrition, physical activity, urban planning, food systems, agriculture, climate change, economics, governance and politics, law, business, marketing and communication, trade and investment, human rights, equity, systems science, consumer advocacy, monitoring and evaluation, Indigenous health, epidemiology, medicine, and health care.

The Commission will have its inaugural meeting in February, 2016, in Washington DC, USA, to determine its work plans.

I guess we should stay tuned to see exactly what that plan will look like.

Edmonton, AB


  1. The panel has too many social systems people and not enough scientists. Only one endocrinologist? Sigh.

    How can you design effective social systems if they aren’t based in science?

    I’m also skeptical about William Dietz. When Flegal et. al. from the CDC published the JAMA study that concluded that mortality related to weight produced a U curve graph with the lowest mortality rate at ten years from measure at a BMI of 27.6, Dietz sided with the Harvard crew that tried to discredit her and promote more obesity panic. We have since learned a lot about the “obesity paradox” and wise, thoughtful people have tempered their worship of the WHO BMI categories.

    And another question or two: Why aren’t you on that committee? Were you at least asked?

    My feeling about the UK is that it has not done a good job at fighting stigma and discrimination. I appreciate your blog post, but I’m not enthusiastic about this initiative.

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  2. Although I am happy to see that the problem is being recognized, I agree with you that the outlined objectives are perhaps somewhat unrealistic. 🙂

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  3. Calories have NOTHING to do with weight gain and weight loss. Calories have NOTHING to do with the mechanisms that are causal of matter gain or loss Calories cannot become fat tissue. Energy is a concept only. Energy is only ever converted into other forms of energy. Fat tissue is matter.

    FORGET “kilocalories.” There is no such thing as pure energy. Energy is not ANYTHING by itself…… So much psuedoscience in the fitness industry…….

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      • INCORRECT! This is a unit conversion equation only that deals witn MASS, NOT matter.

        Enerfy and mas are NOT things,theynare CONCEPTS, PROPERTIES of things. Mathematical concepts. Nothing is made out of energy.

        NO caloric energy is EVER being turned into matter ormtissue of any sort! That is NOT POSSIBLE AND WOULD contradict themconservation of energy principle. The bodymdoes NOT turn fat into heat, nor energy. Fat tissue is matter and matter is made of aroms. Weifht loss ismNOT ABIUT CALORIES. IT IS about REMOVING ATOMS from the body!
        Mass and matter are verymdifferent things. There is NO transmutation occuri g in thismequation. Energy can ONLY be converted into other forms of …….energy! Mass is the energy of a bodynat rest. Another form of energy. The energy was ALREADY there. Thismequation is like xonverting 3 miles into 5 kilomegers, NOT like xonverting U.S. 20 dollar bill,into Euros- At all!

        This equation is abused by the public and most have no idea what it means. Youmare totally mixing that equation up in a way Einstein , Poincare and even Lorentz would not,forgive. Lastky, in scienxe, “laws” are NOT like laws in society . Theynare NOT done by fiat, normare they holy truths,handed down. In the expanding erse, energy is NOT conserved.


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