Peer-Reviewed Articles on Obesity in Historical Context: Annotated Bibliography

Obesity has taken a character of an epidemic during the recent decades. It is naive to reduce the problem only to excessive weight and aesthetic effect. Excess of fat in the organism impairs general health condition and deteriorates the work of heart, vessels, liver, spine, joints, and respiratory organs. It influences the development course of many diseases. Finally, obese people, especially children, bear a social stigma, suffer multiple inconveniences in their life and hence are particularly subject to depression and other psychological problems.

These factors reduce longevity and decrease the quality of life. The public has recognized obesity as a threat to the nation’s health in the previous century. Since then, many studies have been completed to define the causes of obesity, factors influencing disposition to it, and its trends of development. While the connection between excessive weight, unhealthy diet, and lack of movement is obvious, there are deeper causes as well. Researchers have established correlation between obesity and socioeconomic factors. Additionally, connection between excessive weight and diseases has been studied more profoundly. With the globalization processes, the issue has acquired a worldwide resonance. Further acknowledgment of the link between a low social and economic status and obesity requires international action. This sample of peer-reviewed articles dedicated to the problem of obesity will show the development of awareness about the problem and the shift of accents in research. The annotated bibliography will show that only in the recent years, the efforts of the American government to prevent the epidemic of obesity have gained relative but durable effect.

Annotated Bibliography


Fontaine, Kevin R. et al. “Years of Life Lost Due to Obesity.” JAMA 289.2 (2003): 187-193. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.

The research studies overweight adults to estimate the expected number of years of life lost because of obesity. The sampling method was based on race and sex markers. According to the findings, overweight young people lose more years of life than older ones irrespective of the degree of obesity. For example, white men aged 30 to 40 suffering from severe obesity can lose about 22% of their expected life span, which constitutes 13 years. For white women of the same age and weight category, the expected life loss is eight years. In the case of black people, only severe obesity results in a shorter life span (Fontaine et al.).

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The article was published in 2003 when obesity became a serious concern of medical authorities. Despite the efforts of the government directed to spreading awareness of the negative impact of obesity on health and longevity and promoting a healthy lifestyle, the situation has showed no improvement. U.S. Surgeon General warned that the epidemic of obesity could annihilate the progress achieved by medicine in heart surgery and cancer treatment (Fontaine et al.).

Drewnowski, Adam, and S. E. Specter. “Poverty and Obesity: The Role of Energy Density and Energy Costs.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 79.1 (2004): 6-16. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.

The study investigates the association between the socioeconomic status and the issue of obesity. The authors prove dependency of excess weight on the level of income and education. In the households with lower income and health awareness, the diet is based on energy-dense food that is rich in fat and sugar and contains low-cost and low-quality ingredients. Additionally, high contents of sugar and fat are associated with higher energy intake. Finally, food insecurity makes low-income households reduce their spending on healthy food such as fruit, vegetables, or whole grain (Drewnowski and Specter).

The authors mentioned that 64% of adults in America were overweight (Drewnowski and Specter). The daily diet of an average American included snacks, fast food, and caloric drinks. Research proved a relation between such dietary habits and obesity. In 2004, it was already clear that social groups with low income and low education were more vulnerable to obesity than others (Drewnowski and Specter). The article under review reflected the changing opinion about the underlying causes of the problem.

Wang, Youfa, et al. “Will all Americans Become Overweight or Obese? Estimating the Progression and Cost of the US Obesity Epidemic.” Obesity 16.10 (2008): 2323-2330. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.

The authors try to project the situation and to estimate the obesity tendency for the future years. The findings show that 51.1% of adult Americans will be obese and 35.2% will be overweight (Wang et al.) If the trend prevails, all American adults will be obese by 2048. Meanwhile, Mexican and African Americans are especially prone to excessive weight. Childhood obesity is expected to grow drastically as well. Health care costs will increase respectively. The authors insist on the urgent implementation of educational and correcting programs that could curb this tendency (Wang et al.).

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The article reflected the concern of the American society about obesity that had grown into a national crisis. Monitoring of the problem showed permanent increase in the percentage of overweight people in the United States. This threat to the national health is posed by the reduction of life expectancy and various health, psychological, and social difficulties experienced by obese or overweight citizens. Besides, the share of medical expenditures in 1989 related to obesity rose up to 9.1% (Wang et al.). The article showed that in 2004, despite the government’s efforts, obesity persisted and even increased. Moreover, it threatens to affect the whole population of the United States in the nearest future.


Ogden, Cynthia L., et al. “Prevalence of Childhood and Adult Obesity in the United States, 2011-2012.” JAMA 311.8 (2014): 806-814. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.

The research estimates the tendencies in childhood obesity between 2003 and 2012 and attempts of forecasting the future trends. The results prove that excess weight among children and young adults remains on the same level compared with 2003. However, the percentage of overweight and obese individuals among children aged 2 to 5 years and women over 60 has reduced significantly. The situation demands ongoing monitoring, because the obesity rates remain high (Ogden et al.).

The authors noted the tendency to stabilization in the problem of obesity between 2004 and 2010. However, the percentage of overweight and obese people remained high and accounted for 17% of children and one-third of adults. Moreover, obesity rates did not show any falling tendency. Evidently, new requirements for the food packages for children, infants, and women achieved some positive result. Although the epidemic of obesity was not reversed, it was halted (Ogden et al.). The article reflects the situation around obesity in 2012 after significant steps were taken to improve the national health.

Popkin, Barry M., Linda S. Adair, and Shu Wen Ng. “Now and Then: Global Nutrition Transition and the Pandemic of Obesity in Developing Countries.” Nutrition Reviews 70.1 (2012): 3-21. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.

The authors investigate the historical development of obesity. The society and medical authorities failed to recognize the threat until the epidemic of hypertension and diabetes revealed the cause. Nevertheless, unhealthy diet and lifestyle continued throughout the 1980s. Food technologies followed the biological preferences of humans and offered cheap food rich in fats, sugar and calories. Other innovations eliminated movement from almost all human activities (Popkin, Adair, and & Ng). The authors recommend cardinal policy changes to tackle obesity on a global scale.

Globalization has revealed the worldwide character of the obesity problem. It has become an issue in Africa, South and East Asia, as well as in both America and Europe. Although there is a dependency between excessive weight and socioeconomic status, the pandemic affects urban and rural areas, as well as poor and rich countries. Nearly 1.5 billion people all over the world are overweight or obese. Meanwhile, only several countries take serious steps to control the situation (Popkin, Adair, and Ng). The article emphasizes the recognition of the scope of the problem. The modern society realizes that obesity affects and threatens not only the national health, but the health of the whole humanity.

Lobstein, Tim, et al. “Child and Adolescent Obesity: Part of a Bigger Picture.”The Lancet (2015): 1-10. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.

The article analyzes the problem of childhood obesity on a worldwide level. The authors register a rapid weight gain among young children due to the consumption of drinks and beverages with a lot of energy but low nutrient value. The article stresses the necessity of implementing a healthy growth strategy in the countries affected by obesity, which would prevent undernourishment and focus on healthy foods (Lobstein et al. 2). Any improvement of the situation is possible only with governmental intervention. The authors analyze different preventive and informative programs employed to target children in several countries to estimate their cost-effectiveness.

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The problem of childhood obesity prevails in the United States and shows a historical tendency to increase. Around one-third of American children are overweight. However, there has been a slow but steady trend of gradual decrease of the obese individuals in early childhood (Lobstein et al. 2). Ironically, low-income countries show the same tendency, but at a faster rate, despite under- and malnutrition. The percentage of overweight children between two and five is drastically increasing in Mexico, Brazil, Iran, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and China (Lobstein et al. 2). While some countries have adopted policies to control their food market, promote healthy food and lifestyle, and limit the promotion of fattening food, the governmental response in most countries remains slow. This article is one of the most recent researches on the worldwide scope of obesity. It reflects the recognition of the global character of the problem and commitment to tackle it on the international scale.

The analysis of the offered articles reveals the evolution of the public opinion about obesity. It ranged from the negation of the existing problem to the recognition of its universal character. Historically, the elaboration of technologies turned America into one of the most overweight nations in the world. Correspondingly, American society was the first to recognize the problem and to develop strategies to solve it. Although it is too early to celebrate the success, there is a tendency of gradual reduction in the percentage of the affected individuals. The correlation between low income and education and excessive weight remains. Moreover, it is observed on the global scale. The level of obesity in low-income countries has increased dramatically during the past decade. American experience shows that only shifts in the national policy can solve the problem, which is impossible without the intervention of the government.

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