A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association
The prevalence of obesity in the United States and the world has risen to epidemic/pandemic proportions. This increase has occurred despite great efforts by healthcare providers and consumers alike to improve the health-related behaviors of the population and a tremendous push from the scientific community to better understand the pathophysiology of obesity. This epidemic is all the more concerning given the clear association between excess adiposity and adverse health consequences such as cardiovascular disease (CVD) and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). The risks associated with overweight/obesity are primarily related to the deposition of adipose tissue, which leads to excess adiposity or body fatness. Furthermore, weight loss, specifically loss of body fat, is associated with improvement in obesity-related comorbidities. Before weight loss interventions can be recommended, however, patients must be assessed for their adiposity-related risk. Unfortunately, healthcare providers and systems have not done a good job of assessing for excess adiposity even in its simplest form, such as measuring body mass index (BMI). It is for these reasons that we must emphasize the importance of assessing adiposity in clinical practices. Although it can be argued that the entire population should be targeted as an important public health issue with a goal of prevention of weight gain and obesity, there are currently so many “at risk” individuals that simple strategies to identify and treat those individuals are necessary. We must identify those individuals at highest risk of comorbidities in order to identify those who might benefit the most from aggressive weight management.
This scientific statement will first briefly review the epidemiology of obesity and its related comorbidities, supporting the need for improved assessment of adiposity in daily clinical practice. This will be followed by a discussion of some of the challenges and issues associated with assessing adiposity and then by a review …