There are a number of reasons why prevention is likely to be the only effective way of tackling the problem of overweight and obesity. First, obesity develops over time, and once it has done so, it is very difficult to treat. A number of analyses have identified the limited success of obesity treatments (with the possible exception of surgical interventions) to achieve long-term weight loss. Second, the health consequences associated with obesity result from the cumulative metabolic and physical stress of excess weight over a long period of time and may not be fully reversible by weight loss. Third, the proportion of the population that is either overweight or obese in many countries is now so large that there are no longer sufficient health care resources to offer treatment to all. It can be argued, therefore, that the prevention of weight gain (or the reversal of small gains) and the maintenance of a healthy weight would be easier, less expensive, and potentially more effective than to treat obesity after it has fully developed.
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