Charles Nguyen, Kevin Bera
The increasing prevalence of childhood obesity, which has tripled since 1980 to nearly 17%, has become a major public health concern, resulting in the need for more effective approaches toward weight loss. The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion in 2008; the medical costs for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than normal weight people .
Current weight loss approaches include nutritional education and exercise, behavioral strategies aimed at lifestyle modifications, or nutritionally restrictive dieting. Numerous randomized trials comparing different diets (e.g., low carbohydrates, low fat) have shown minimal differences in weight loss (mean difference of < 1kg) and metabolic risk factors . Adherence was most strongly associated with weight loss in 4 meta-analyses of diet comparison studies summarizing 13 to 24 clinical trials [2-5].