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Although obesity is a global epidemic that affects every socio-economic class, little is available in the literature on the status of the syndrome in Africa.This literature review was therefore written in order to highlight the causes, effects and potential mitigation measures of the syndrome with particular interest on the status of the condition in Africa.In 2002, the Swedish Council on Technology Assessment in Health Care (SBU) published a report (in Swedish) that examined the body of scientific evidence on interventions to prevent and treat obesity.
This report reviews the scientific evidence for medical interventions aimed at preventing obesity during childhood and adolescence.
A systematic literature review involving selection of primary research and other systematic reviews.
Obesity results from an incorrect energy balance leading to an increased store of energy, mainly as fat.
The major factors that contribute to obesity include over-nutrition, physical inactivity, change of dietary habits, modernization,consumption of high fat, high carbohydrate foods, urbanization and in a minority of patients a physical condition or metabolic disturbance.
Additional studies were found in reference lists of relevant articles, in recently published medical journals and in other review articles.
To find studies related to health economics, the NHSEED (NHS Economic Evaluation Database) and Pub Med databases were searched using the search terms ‘obesity’ and ‘overweight’ in combination with ‘prevent’ (using various suffixes).Key questions include: A search in Pub Med and the Cochrane Library identified literature published from 2001 to May 2004.Table 1 presents the search terms and combinations.From the perspective of both the individual and society, it is therefore essential to identify strategies for managing this problem.Once present, obesity is difficult to treat, making effective preventive intervention all the more important.Body mass index (BMI) is currently being used by competent authorities as an index of obesity.Preventive measures to contain the epidemic of obesity have become a major focus of attention.Children could be recruited from normal or high-risk populations.Combining the new data with the previous review resulted in an evaluation of 24 studies involving 25 896 children.Languages accepted were Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, English, German and French.The quality of included studies was rated according to a three-grade scale: high, medium and low.