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Journal: Obesity reviews : an official journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity


The objective of this study was to critically review the empirical evidence from all relevant disciplines regarding obesity stigma in order to (i) determine the implications of obesity stigma for healthcare providers and their patients with obesity and (ii) identify strategies to improve care for patients with obesity. We conducted a search of Medline and PsychInfo for all peer-reviewed papers presenting original empirical data relevant to stigma, bias, discrimination, prejudice and medical care. We then performed a narrative review of the existing empirical evidence regarding the impact of obesity stigma and weight bias for healthcare quality and outcomes. Many healthcare providers hold strong negative attitudes and stereotypes about people with obesity. There is considerable evidence that such attitudes influence person-perceptions, judgment, interpersonal behaviour and decision-making. These attitudes may impact the care they provide. Experiences of or expectations for poor treatment may cause stress and avoidance of care, mistrust of doctors and poor adherence among patients with obesity. Stigma can reduce the quality of care for patients with obesity despite the best intentions of healthcare providers to provide high-quality care. There are several potential intervention strategies that may reduce the impact of obesity stigma on quality of care.

Concepts: Health care, Health care provider, Scientific method, Critical thinking, Illness, Empiricism, Empirical, Discrimination


Calories from any food have the potential to increase risk for obesity and cardiometabolic disease because all calories can directly contribute to positive energy balance and fat gain. However, various dietary components or patterns may promote obesity and cardiometabolic disease by additional mechanisms that are not mediated solely by caloric content. Researchers explored this topic at the 2017 CrossFit Foundation Academic Conference ‘Diet and Cardiometabolic Health - Beyond Calories’, and this paper summarizes the presentations and follow-up discussions. Regarding the health effects of dietary fat, sugar and non-nutritive sweeteners, it is concluded that food-specific saturated fatty acids and sugar-sweetened beverages promote cardiometabolic diseases by mechanisms that are additional to their contribution of calories to positive energy balance and that aspartame does not promote weight gain. The challenges involved in conducting and interpreting clinical nutritional research, which preclude more extensive conclusions, are detailed. Emerging research is presented exploring the possibility that responses to certain dietary components/patterns are influenced by the metabolic status, developmental period or genotype of the individual; by the responsiveness of brain regions associated with reward to food cues; or by the microbiome. More research regarding these potential ‘beyond calories’ mechanisms may lead to new strategies for attenuating the obesity crisis.


A substantial proportion of energy expenditure is utilized for maintenance of the ‘warm-blooded’ or homoeothermic state. In normally active humans, this compartment of energy output approximates 40% of total energy expenditure. Many mammalian species utilize regulated decreases in temperature, such as hibernation or shallow torpor, as a means of energy conservation. Inherited forms of rodent obesity (ob/ob mouse, fa/fa rat) have lower core temperatures and withstand cold poorly. Obese humans, however, have normal core temperatures. This review addresses the role of core temperature in the metabolic economy of the obese state and raises the possibility that (i) lower temperatures may contribute to the increase in metabolic efficiency that accompanies weight loss in the obese; and (ii) that lower core temperatures may have initiated weight gain in the pre-obese state and that the normal temperatures in the obese may represent metabolic compensation to restore energy balance and limit further weight gain.

Concepts: Energy, Obesity, Mass, Thermoregulation, Temperature, Thermodynamics, Heat, Entropy


Personality is thought to affect obesity risk but before such information can be incorporated into prevention and intervention plans, robust and converging evidence concerning the most relevant personality traits is needed. We performed a meta-analysis based on individual-participant data from nine cohort studies to examine whether broad-level personality traits predict the development and persistence of obesity (n = 78,931 men and women; mean age 50 years). Personality was assessed using inventories of the Five-Factor Model (extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness and openness to experience). High conscientiousness - reflecting high self-control, orderliness and adherence to social norms - was associated with lower obesity risk across studies (pooled odds ratio [OR] = 0.84; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.80-0.88 per 1 standard deviation increment in conscientiousness). Over a mean follow-up of 5.4 years, conscientiousness predicted lower obesity risk in initially non-obese individuals (OR = 0.88, 95% CI = 0.85-0.92; n = 33,981) and was associated with greater likelihood of reversion to non-obese among initially obese individuals (OR = 1.08, 95% CI = 1.01-1.14; n = 9,657). Other personality traits were not associated with obesity in the pooled analysis, and there was substantial heterogeneity in the associations between studies. The findings indicate that conscientiousness may be the only broad-level personality trait of the Five-Factor Model that is consistently associated with obesity across populations.

Concepts: Psychology, Personality psychology, Neuroticism, Big Five personality traits, Trait theory, Personality traits, Psychoticism, Openness to experience


The palatable, energy-dense foods that characterize modern environments can promote unhealthy eating habits, along with humans' predispositions to accept sweet tastes and reject those that are sour or bitter. Yet food preferences are malleable, and examining food preference learning during early life can highlight ways to promote acceptance of healthier foods. This narrative review describes research from the past 10 years focused on food preference learning from the prenatal period through early childhood (ages 2-5 years). Exposure to a variety of healthy foods from the start, including during the prenatal period, early milk-feeding and the introduction to complementary foods and beverages, can support subsequent acceptance of those foods. Yet development is plastic, and healthier food preferences can still be promoted after infancy. In early childhood, research supports starting with the simplest strategies, such as repeated exposure and modelling, reserving other strategies for use when needed to motivate the initial tasting necessary for repeated exposure effects to begin. This review can help caregivers and practitioners to promote the development of healthy food preferences early in life. Specific implementation recommendations, the role of individual differences and next steps for research in this area are also discussed.

Concepts: Health care, Pregnancy, Health, Human, Nutrition, Taste, Motivation, Personal life


The aim of this meta-analysis was to quantify the effects of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) on markers of glucose regulation and insulin resistance compared with control conditions (CON) or continuous training (CT). Databases were searched for HIIT interventions based upon the inclusion criteria: training ≥2 weeks, adult participants and outcome measurements that included insulin resistance, fasting glucose, HbA1c or fasting insulin. Dual interventions and participants with type 1 diabetes were excluded. Fifty studies were included. There was a reduction in insulin resistance following HIIT compared with both CON and CT (HIIT vs. CON: standardized mean difference [SMD] = -0.49, confidence intervals [CIs] -0.87 to -0.12, P = 0.009; CT: SMD = -0.35, -0.68 to -0.02, P = 0.036). Compared with CON, HbA1c decreased by 0.19% (-0.36 to -0.03, P = 0.021) and body weight decreased by 1.3 kg (-1.9 to -0.7, P < 0.001). There were no statistically significant differences between groups in other outcomes overall. However, participants at risk of or with type 2 diabetes experienced reductions in fasting glucose (-0.92 mmol L(-1) , -1.22 to -0.62, P < 0.001) compared with CON. HIIT appears effective at improving metabolic health, particularly in those at risk of or with type 2 diabetes. Larger randomized controlled trials of longer duration than those included in this meta-analysis are required to confirm these results.

Concepts: Insulin, Diabetes mellitus type 2, Diabetes mellitus, Diabetes mellitus type 1, Obesity, Diabetes, Insulin resistance, High-intensity interval training


Children with developmental coordination disorder (DCD) find themselves less competent than typically developing children with regard to their physical abilities and often experience failure. They are therefore likely to avoid physical activity. Physical inactivity is considered an important risk factor for developing overweight and obesity. The aim of this study is to assess the association between DCD and overweight and obesity in children and whether this association is influenced by age and/or gender. Six electronic databases were systematically searched. Titles and abstracts were screened for relevance. Remaining studies were subjected to full paper review. The quality of the included articles was assessed and relevant data were extracted for comparison. The search yielded 273 results. Twenty-one studies, based on 10 cohorts, were included. Participants' ages ranged from 4 to 14 years. In all cohorts, children with DCD had higher body mass index scores, larger waist circumference and greater percentage body fat compared with controls. Seven studies assessed the effect of gender and four studies provided information on the effect of age. Children with DCD seem to be at greater risk for overweight and obesity. This risk may be higher for boys and seems to increase with age and with the severity of motor impairment.

Concepts: Nutrition, Obesity, Overweight, Adipose tissue, Body mass index, Body fat percentage, Body shape, Sedentary lifestyle


Very-low-energy diets (VLEDs) and ketogenic low-carbohydrate diets (KLCDs) are two dietary strategies that have been associated with a suppression of appetite. However, the results of clinical trials investigating the effect of ketogenic diets on appetite are inconsistent. To evaluate quantitatively the effect of ketogenic diets on subjective appetite ratings, we conducted a systematic literature search and meta-analysis of studies that assessed appetite with visual analogue scales before (in energy balance) and during (while in ketosis) adherence to VLED or KLCD. Individuals were less hungry and exhibited greater fullness/satiety while adhering to VLED, and individuals adhering to KLCD were less hungry and had a reduced desire to eat. Although these absolute changes in appetite were small, they occurred within the context of energy restriction, which is known to increase appetite in obese people. Thus, the clinical benefit of a ketogenic diet is in preventing an increase in appetite, despite weight loss, although individuals may indeed feel slightly less hungry (or more full or satisfied). Ketosis appears to provide a plausible explanation for this suppression of appetite. Future studies should investigate the minimum level of ketosis required to achieve appetite suppression during ketogenic weight loss diets, as this could enable inclusion of a greater variety of healthy carbohydrate-containing foods into the diet.

Concepts: Nutrition, Obesity, Eating, Weight loss, Appetite, Ketogenic diet, Low-carbohydrate diet, Ketosis


Sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) are the single largest source of added sugar and the top source of energy intake in the U.S. diet. In this review, we evaluate whether there is sufficient scientific evidence that decreasing SSB consumption will reduce the prevalence of obesity and its related diseases. Because prospective cohort studies address dietary determinants of long-term weight gain and chronic diseases, whereas randomized clinical trials (RCTs) typically evaluate short-term effects of specific interventions on weight change, both types of evidence are critical in evaluating causality. Findings from well-powered prospective cohorts have consistently shown a significant association, established temporality and demonstrated a direct dose-response relationship between SSB consumption and long-term weight gain and risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D). A recently published meta-analysis of RCTs commissioned by the World Health Organization found that decreased intake of added sugars significantly reduced body weight (0.80 kg, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.39-1.21; P < 0.001), whereas increased sugar intake led to a comparable weight increase (0.75 kg, 0.30-1.19; P = 0.001). A parallel meta-analysis of cohort studies also found that higher intake of SSBs among children was associated with 55% (95% CI 32-82%) higher risk of being overweight or obese compared with those with lower intake. Another meta-analysis of eight prospective cohort studies found that one to two servings per day of SSB intake was associated with a 26% (95% CI 12-41%) greater risk of developing T2D compared with occasional intake (less than one serving per month). Recently, two large RCTs with a high degree of compliance provided convincing data that reducing consumption of SSBs significantly decreases weight gain and adiposity in children and adolescents. Taken together, the evidence that decreasing SSBs will decrease the risk of obesity and related diseases such as T2D is compelling. Several additional issues warrant further discussion. First, prevention of long-term weight gain through dietary changes such as limiting consumption of SSBs is more important than short-term weight loss in reducing the prevalence of obesity in the population. This is due to the fact that once an individual becomes obese, it is difficult to lose weight and keep it off. Second, we should consider the totality of evidence rather than selective pieces of evidence (e.g. from short-term RCTs only). Finally, while recognizing that the evidence of harm on health against SSBs is strong, we should avoid the trap of waiting for absolute proof before allowing public health action to be taken.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Clinical trial, Cancer, Nutrition, Obesity, Adipose tissue, Dieting, World Health Organization


This paper considers the argument for obesity as a chronic relapsing disease process. Obesity is viewed from an epidemiological model, with an agent affecting the host and producing disease. Food is the primary agent, particularly foods that are high in energy density such as fat, or in sugar-sweetened beverages. An abundance of food, low physical activity and several other environmental factors interact with the genetic susceptibility of the host to produce positive energy balance. The majority of this excess energy is stored as fat in enlarged, and often more numerous fat cells, but some lipid may infiltrate other organs such as the liver (ectopic fat). The enlarged fat cells and ectopic fat produce and secrete a variety of metabolic, hormonal and inflammatory products that produce damage in organs such as the arteries, heart, liver, muscle and pancreas. The magnitude of the obesity and its adverse effects in individuals may relate to the virulence or toxicity of the environment and its interaction with the host. Thus, obesity fits the epidemiological model of a disease process except that the toxic or pathological agent is food rather than a microbe. Reversing obesity will prevent most of its detrimental effects.

Concepts: Cancer, Metabolism, Nutrition, Energy, Insulin, Obesity, Muscle, Fat