Division of Cardiology, Cardiac Prevention and Rehabilitation, St Michael's Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Global obesity rates have increased steadily in both developed and emerging countries over the past several decades with little signs of slowing down. Over 1.5 billion people worldwide are overweight or obese and over 40 million children under the age of 5 are overweight. Obesity is associated with increased morbidity, disability, and premature mortality from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancers, and musculoskeletal disorders. The personal and societal health and economic burden of this preventable disease pose a serious threat to our societies. Obesity is a major risk factor for hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Weight loss, through health behaviour modification and dietary sodium restriction, is the cornerstone in the treatment of obesity-related hypertension. Pharmacotherapy and bariatric surgery for obesity are adjunctive measures when health behaviour interventions fail to achieve the body weight and health targets. Successful management of overweightand obese persons requires a comprehensive, multifaceted framework that integrates population health, public health, and medical health models to dismantle the proximal and distal drivers of the obesogenic environment in which we live. Prevention of obesity is no longer a lofty but rather necessary goal that urgently calls for action from governments at all levels, in conjunction with all public and private sector stakeholders, in order to combat a serious and growing public health concern.