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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the authors' final version prior to publication in Primary Care: Clinics in Office Practice Volume 36, Issue 3, September 2009, Pages 509-531. The published version is available at DOI: 10.1016/j.pop.2009.04.005. Copyright © Elsevier Inc..


Obesity has become the second leading preventable cause of disease and death in the United States, trailing only tobacco use. Weight control, dietary choices, and levels of physical activity are important modifiable determinants of cancer risk. If multi-factorial approaches to prevention and management are not implemented, obesity will likely become the leading modifiable cause of death in the coming years. Physicians have a key role in integrating these approaches into clinical care and advocating for systemic prevention efforts. This article provides: 1) an introduction to the epidemiology and magnitude of childhood and adult obesity; 2) the relationship of overweight/obesity to cancer and other chronic diseases, 3) potential mechanisms postulated to explain these relationships; 4) a review of recommended obesity treatment and assessment guidelines for adults, adolescents and children: 5) multi-level prevention strategies, and; 6) an approach to obesity management in adults utilizing the Chronic Care Model.