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i3S researchers launch book on obesity

Rosário Monteiro and Maria João Martins recently launched a book called Understanding Obesity: From its Causes to Impact on Life. The invitation came from publisher Bentham Books and the publication, which includes contributions of specialists from various areas and from different national institutions (FMUP, CHSJ, UNL, FADEUP, ISPUP, IPL, CINTESIS), aims to describe the factors that contribute to obesity.

This book covers social and behavioral causes, factors prior to birth, the pollutants to which we are exposed throughout life, the bacteria that live in our intestines, to what we eat, and the physiological mechanisms that expend or accumulate energy obtained through feeding.

"There are 17 chapters that address obesity from various perspectives, with medical information (adipose physiology and different disease conditions relevant to obesity), educational, social, and psychological issues that we consider central to the care of patients with obesity and the latest information on the treatment options for obesity (including medical, pharmacological, and surgical options), as well as the impact of food and physical activity", explain the authors.

For researcher Rosário Monteiro this book is particularly relevant at a time when the prevalence of obesity continues to increase worldwide, in Portugal, and in increasingly younger age groups. "It has been our concern to investigate the causes of obesity and contribute to improving its approach. Although obesity is recognized as a problem, we devote little time and resources to preventing or treating it. Health services and medical training itself are more concerned with the consequences of obesity (such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes) and we lose the opportunity to act at an earlier stage in the natural history of the disease where we could do much better to increase health gains and reduce the socio-economic impact of obesity and associated diseases".

"We hope that this book can alert and inform about the need to look at obesity as a disease whose approach must be among our priorities and can contribute to qualifying health professionals for this activity", says Rosário Monteiro. Maria João Martins, for her part, stresses the "need for [more] funding in carrying out training actions at all levels of schooling so that this subject can be known and addressed from an earlier age and in a systematic way".

This book, underlines Rosário Monteiro, is a "valuable tool for educators, teachers, and researchers in the biomedical field, and for health professionals in a transversal way, for instance family doctors, endocrinologists, nutritionists, and nurses, but also for decision-makers in the area of health and other professional contexts that seek a comprehensive understanding of the causes and consequences of obesity and ways of addressing it".