Preventing and treating obesity is important because it shortens life1 and precipitates or aggravates many disorders, including hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, gout, osteoarthrosis, hiatus hernia and hyperlipidaemia. The desirable range of weight for height in adults is defined by the body mass index (BMI), W/H2, where W is body weight (kg) and H is height (metres); mortality is lowest for a BMI of 20–25.2 By this criterion, one third of a GP’s patients are likely to be overweight. It seems that those at greatest risk from developing hypertension and metabolic complications have a mainly abdominal, rather than peripheral distribution of fat.3,4
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