One Health Solutions to Obesity in People and Their Pets

J. Bartges, R.F. Kushner, K.E. Michel, R. Sallis, M.J. Day

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)
435 Downloads (Pure)


Despite the high prevalence of overweight and obesity in the human and companion animal populations, and the global trends for increasing numbers of affected people and pets, there are few successful interventions that are proven to combat this complex multifactorial problem. One key strategy involves effective communication between human and veterinary healthcare professionals with patients and clients about obesity. In human healthcare, the focus of communication should be on physical activity as part of overall health and wellbeing, rather than assessment of the body mass index; clinical examination of patients should record levels of physical activity as a key ‘vital sign’ as part of their assessment. Successful weight loss programmes for companion animals also involves strategic communication with the entire healthcare team leading clients through the ‘stages of change’. There is great potential in employing a ‘One Health’ framework to provide novel solutions for the prevention and treatment of this condition in people and their pets. Comparative clinical research into the biology of obesity and its comorbidities in dogs and cats is likely to lead to knowledge relevant to the equivalent human conditions. The advantages of companion animal clinical research over traditional rodent models include the outbred genetic background and relatively long lifespan of pets and the fact that they share the human domestic environment. The human–companion animal bond can be leveraged to create successful programmes that promote physical activity in people and their pets with obesity. Dog walking is a proven motivator for human physical activity, with health benefits to both the owner and the dog. Realizing the potential of a One Health approach will require the efforts and leadership of a committed group of like-minded individuals representing a range of scientific and medical disciplines. Interested parties will need the means and opportunities to communicate and to collaborate, including having the resources and funding for research. One Health proponents must have a role in forming public policy related to the prevention and management of overweight and obesity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)326-333
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Comparative Pathology
Issue number4
Early online date28 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - May 2017


  • communication
  • obesity
  • One Health
  • physical activity


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