The North American Association for the Study of Obesity was founded in 1982. It has grown steadily and well over the ensuing years, and we now have a membership of over 1200. Ten years after its founding, in 1992, the society established its own journal, Obesity Research, to provide a vehicle for communication of investigative advances in all areas of obesity. The journal is now 8 years old and is also doing well, with an ever increasing circulation and impact factor. We enter the new century as a very young society and a still younger journal. But our plans are to continue to grow in quality and quantity. We are preparing for big changes in this millennium year. In July, due to our increasingly larger number of submissions, we plan to expand from a bimonthly to a monthly publication. What should be of interest to all contributors is that this will decrease considerably the waiting time between submission of an article for review and its publication. Our other important step will be to go on line and join the internet revolution. We plan to become part of the Stanford HighWire group, which should give our readers excellent service and the ability to acquire a number of extra bibliographic advantages.
Obesity has come of age as the new century begins. There has been a change of attitude among scientists about the nature of the problem and the nature of the solution. This has been fueled by two events: the accelerating prevalence of obesity and the accelerating sophistication of molecular genetics. The accelerating prevalence of obesity (1, 2) and the health dangers that accompany it (3) has alerted and alarmed public health authorities around the world. Associated conditions like insulin resistance, hyperinsulinemia, hyperglycemia, dyslipidemia, and hypertension accompany the obesity (3) and lead to increased complications of diabetes, heart attacks, and stroke. The increased morbidity in the population increases health care costs (4) and impacts on mortality (5). The health care burden, which in the last century was radically decreased with regard to infectious disease and deficiency malnutrition, is now plagued with diseases of over-ingestion, heart attacks, obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. These are some of the biggest killers in America today, and obesity enhances their risk.
The rapidly increasing knowledge and technical expertise in molecular genetics has begun to uncover a wealth of information on the origins of obesity. The landmark cloning of the ob/ob gene (6) and of the leptin receptor (7) were the start of a veritable cascade of information on brain neurotransmitters important in food intake and thermogenic regulation. This expanding knowledge has placed the study of obesity firmly in the forefront of molecular biology. Obesity has come of age as a molecular disease with potential molecular explanations.
In addition, advances in the behavioral and environmental aspects of obesity are being more systematically explored. With greater interest in this aspect of the etiology of obesity, there can come breakthroughs in treatment and prevention that are sorely needed. Obesity Research will continue to bring you investigative advances that are at the frontier in the unraveling of the conundrum that is obesity. We are optimistic that we will continue to grow, to prosper, and to communicate important information to you the scientists and practitioners who are interested in this intriguing, mysterious, and dangerous disease.