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Editors: Linda Voss, Terry Wilkin
112 pp Price £75 ISBN 0-415-30015-0
London: Taylor & Francis, 2003 .
Quite suddenly, we are perceiving that one of the greatest threats to human health is obesity. In terms of reduced expectation of life it ranks with tobacco smoking, and the prevalence is rising in most countries, rich and poor. In heart disease, obesity may before long reverse all the population benefits achieved in past decades through control of hyperlipidaemia, hypertension and smoking. The reason is that about one-third of obese individuals, mainly those with central obesity, develop either type 2 diabetes or its milder variant the `metabolic syndrome', in which tissue insulin resistance leads to hyperinsulinaemia, lipid disturbances and excess cardiovascular risk. That is to say nothing of other health hazards.
On receiving a review copy of Adult Obesity: a Paediatric Challenge I noted glumly that it was based on a symposium—often a bad sign in a book. But, leafing through it, I was immediately gripped and finished it at one sitting. The flavour can be had from the titles and contributors—Obesity: a global problem (Philip James); Underactivity or overnutrition? (Ken Fox); Do our genes make us fat? (Philippe Froguel); The seeds are sown in childhood (Terry Wilkin); Social inequalities, nutrition and obesity (Suzi Leather); Self-image and the stigma of obesity (Andrew Hill); The view from primary care (Ian Campbell); Adult obesity: a paediatric challenge (David Hall). The text is exceptionally clear, with little redundancy: I suspect that the editors have done a lot of work.
As the title indicates, the main hope for prevention lies in childhood—especially strategies to increase physical activity. For those who are puzzled by the sudden alarm about obesity, an hour with this book will supply the answer.
PS The price, unfortunately, is correct.