Pathogenesis of obesity and cardiometabolic diseases: From the legacy of Ancel Keys to current concepts.


Dulloo AG(1), Montani JP(1).
Author information:
(1)Faculty of Science and Medicine, Department of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Cardiovascular System, University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland.


Several areas of research into the prevention and treatment of obesity today can be traced to one or more of the scientific works pioneered by Ancel Keys between the 1930s to 1970s in fields that cut across the physiology of extremes and public health nutrition. These range from his classical studies into how body and mind respond to chronic exposure to hypoxia in "The Physiology of Life at High Altitudes" or to simulated famine under controlled laboratory conditions in "The Biology of Human Starvation", the impact of diet and lifestyle on cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in "The Seven Countries Study," to the "Indices of Relative Weight and Obesity" in which he identified what has since been the most widely utilized diagnostic tool to monitor obesity across populations worldwide and which he coined as the body mass index. The contribution of Ancel Keys to medical sciences through his observations, analytical approaches, and research output of his classic studies, and how these have (and continue) to impact on a plethora of current concepts in obesity research today, are embodied in the eight review articles that constitute this supplement reporting the proceedings of the 10th Fribourg Obesity Research Conference. The aim of this introductory paper is to put into perspective the legacy of Ancel Keys to current concepts that are encapsulated in these review articles that cover research areas that include (i) the diagnosis of obesity for health risks; (ii) the role of dietary fat types in the pathogenesis of obesity and cardiometabolic diseases; (iii) the rationale, efficacy and safety of low carbohydrate ketogenic diets, or the therapeutic potential of hypoxic conditioning, in weight management programs; (iv) the psychological and physiological basis of the "famine reaction" that counters therapeutic dieting and facilitates weight regain; and (v) the potential impact of weight cycling and yoyo dieting on risks for later obesity and cardiometabolic diseases.