Submitted to: Nestle Nutrition Workshop
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: September 1, 2007
Publication Date: August 12, 2008
Citation: Bier, D.M. 2008. The phenotype of human obesity: The scope of the problem. Nestle Nutrition Workshop. 62:97-110. Technical Abstract: The prevention and treatment of childhood obesity have proven to be extremely difficult problems. Since the equation for maintaining energy balance is an extremely simple one, having only two terms, 'energy in' and 'energy out', the difficulties encountered in its application for obesity management are not immediately obvious. Among the problems that make practical application of the energy balance equation more difficult than expected are: (1) the precise feedback control system that is designed to maintain weight within a given range; (2) the aggressive resistance of the system to attempts to exceed its boundaries; (3) inaccurate assessment of energy intake in practice; (4) the dominant role of genes in determining body weight; (5) the polygenic nature of obesity and the fact that any single gene accounts for a small fraction of the genetic variation in weight; (6) underestimation of the genetic contribution to the current 'epidemic' of obesity; (7) the fact that 'modifiable' risk factors may be less modifiable than expected; (8) appreciation that family role modeling may be less influential than anticipated, and (9) the realization that our knowledge about the development of physical activity behaviors in childhood is extremely limited.