This article reviews the biology, prevalence and risks for obesity in people and companion dogs and cats, and explores the links between obesity and diabetes mellitus and cancer across these species. Obesity is a major healthcare problem in both human and veterinary medicine and there is an increasing prevalence of obesity in people and pets. In people and animals, obesity is a complex disorder involving diet, level of physical activity, behavioural factors, socioeconomic factors, environment exposures, genetics, metabolism and the microbiome. Pets and people share a number of obesity-related comorbidities. Obesity is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes mellitus in people and in cats, but this association is not recognized in dogs. Obesity is a recognized risk factor for a number of human cancers, but there are fewer data available describing this association with canine neoplastic disease. One approach to addressing the problem of obesity is by taking a ‘One Health’ perspective. Comparative clinical research examining shared lifestyle and environmental risk factors and the reasons underlying species differences should provide new perspectives on the fundamental biology of obesity. One Health programmes involving human healthcare professionals and veterinarians could help address obesity with simple interventions at the community level.
- One Health