Why are we losing the war against obesity and chronic disease? This is the simple question Peter Gluckman and Mark Hanson ask, exploring the dominant myth that the exploding epidemic of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes can be tackled by focusing on adult life styles. Addressing the flawed approach of the weight-loss industry, they explain why a continued focus simply on diet and exercise will fail. Highlighting the implications of the growing burden of these problems in the developing world, they show that the scientific enterprise ignores the reality of the social, cultural, and biological determinants that make different populations and people respond differently to living in the modern nutritionally rich world. Gluckman and Hanson review the overwhelming scientific evidence that much of the problem emerges in early life and even before birth, identifying that to address these issues requires considering development in two dimensions - a life course approach and addressing the developmental challenges of countries emerging through the socioeconomic transition. Asking why the major global bodies and vested interests fail to consider these dimensions and continue with failed approaches, they conclude by discussing the complex interactions between health and the food industry, and suggest that the food industry must be co-opted as an ally in this battle, providing a clear pathway forward.
About the Authors:
Professor Sir Peter Gluckman trained as paediatrician and endocrinologist before entering a career focused on the biology of the fetus, the biology of growth, development and metabolic disease and the interface between evolutionary biology and medicine. He is University Distinguished Professor (2001) and head of the Centre for Human Evolution, Adaptation and Disease in the Liggins Institute of the University of Auckland, and programme director for growth, development and metabolism at theSingapore Institute of Clinical Sciences (2007-). He holds honorary chairs in Southampton, Singapore and Chile. He previously chaired the WHO Technical Advisory Committee on Optimising the Outcomes of Pregnancy.
Professor Mark Hanson is the UK's leading researcher on developmental pathways to disease. He is current President of the International Society for the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease. He has served on WHO committees and chairs an advisory committee in China focused on thediabetes epidemic. In the UK he directs the Division of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease at the University of Southampton, and overseas he holds visiting appointments in Auckland, Singapore, Dublin and Shanghai.