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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Title: Ten putative contributors to the obesity epidemic

item Mcallister, Emily
item Dhurandhar, Nikhil
item Keith, Scott
item Aronne, Louis
item Barger, Jamie
item Baskin, Monica
item Benca, Ruth
item Biggio, Joseph
item Boggiano, Mary
item Eisenmann, Joe
item Elobeid, Mai
item Fontaine, Kevin
item Gluckman, Peter
item Hanlon, Erin
item Katzmarzyk, Peter
item Pietrobelli, Angelo
item Redden, David
item Ruden, Douglas
item Wang, Chenxi
item Waterland, Robert
item Wright, Suzanne
item Allison, David

Submitted to: Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/1/2009
Publication Date: 12/2/2009
Citation: Mcallister, E.J., Dhurandhar, N.V., Keith, S.W., Aronne, L.J., Barger, J., Baskin, M., Benca, R.N., Biggio, J., Boggiano, M.M., Eisenmann, J.C., Elobeid, M., Fontaine, K.R., Gluckman, P., Hanlon, E.C., Katzmarzyk, P., Pietrobelli, A., Redden, D.T., Ruden, D.M., Wang, C., Waterland, R.A., Wright, S.M., Allison, D.B. 2009. Ten putative contributors to the obesity epidemic. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 49(10):868-913.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The obesity epidemic is a global issue and shows no signs of abating, while the cause of this epidemic remains unclear. Marketing practices of energy-dense foods and institutionally-driven declines in physical activity are the alleged perpetrators for the epidemic, despite a lack of solid evidence to demonstrate their causal role. While both may contribute to obesity, we call attention to their unquestioned dominance in program funding and public efforts to reduce obesity, and propose several alternative putative contributors that would benefit from equal consideration and attention. Evidence for microorganisms, epigenetics, increasing maternal age, greater fecundity among people with higher adiposity, assortative mating, sleep debt, endocrine disruptors, pharmaceutical iatrogenesis, reduction in variability of ambient temperatures, and intrauterine and intergenerational effects as contributing factors to the obesity epidemic are reviewed herein. While the evidence is strong for some contributors such as pharmaceutical-induced weight gain, it is still emerging for other reviewed factors. Considering the role of such putative etiological factors of obesity may lead to comprehensive, cause specific, and effective strategies for prevention and treatment of this global epidemic.

Last Modified: 10/19/2017
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