Obesity is one of the most pervasive, chronic diseases in need of new strategies for medical treatment and prevention. As a leading cause of United States mortality, morbidity, disability, healthcare utilization and healthcare costs, the high prevalence of obesity continues to strain the United States healthcare system.
Obesity is defined as excess adipose tissue. There are several different methods for determining excess adipose (fat) tissue; the most common being the Body Mass Index (BMI) (see below). A fat cell is an endocrine cell and adipose tissue is an endocrine organ. As such, adipose tissue secretes a number of products, including metabolites, cytokines, lipids, and coagulation factors among others. Significantly, excess adiposity or obesity causes increased levels of circulating fatty acids and inflammation. This can lead to insulin resistance, which in turn can lead to type 2 diabetes.