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Diet, nutrition and the prevention of excess weight gain and obesity

  • Swinburn BA (a1), Caterson I (a2), Seidell JC (a3) and James WPT (a4)
Abstract
Objective:

To review the evidence on the diet and nutrition causes of obesity and to recommend strategies to reduce obesity prevalence.

Design:

The evidence for potential aetiological factors and strategies to reduce obesity prevalence was reviewed, and recommendations for public health action, population nutrition goals and further research were made.

Results:

Protective factors against obesity were considered to be: regular physical activity (convincing); a high intake of dietary non-starch polysaccharides (NSP)/fibre (convincing); supportive home and school environments for children (probable); and breastfeeding (probable). Risk factors for obesity were considered to be sedentary lifestyles (convincing); a high intake of energy-dense, micronutrient-poor foods (convincing); heavy marketing of energy-dense foods and fast food outlets (probable); sugar-sweetened soft drinks and fruit juices (probable); adverse social and economic conditions—developed countries, especially in women (probable).

A broad range of strategies were recommended to reduce obesity prevalence including: influencing the food supply to make healthy choices easier; reducing the marketing of energy dense foods and beverages to children; influencing urban environments and transport systems to promote physical activity; developing community-wide programmes in multiple settings; increased communications about healthy eating and physical activity; and improved health services to promote breastfeeding and manage currently overweight or obese people.

Conclusions:

The increasing prevalence of obesity is a major health threat in both low- and high income countries. Comprehensive programmes will be needed to turn the epidemic around.

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Corresponding author
*Corresponding author: Email swinburn@deakin.edu.au
References
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Public Health Nutrition
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