Guide to authors

To download our complete Guide to Authors, please click here


Article Type Specifications

Article: An Article is a substantial, in-depth, novel research study of interest to the readership of the journal. The structure an Article should follow is detailed below.
Specifications: Structured abstract max. 300 words; Main body of text (excluding abstract, tables/figures, and references) not to exceed 4,000 words; Max 6 tables or figures (Note: composite figures containing more than three individual figures will count as two figures); Max 60 references

Review Article:
Reviews are comprehensive analyses of specific topics that are solicited by the Editor. Proposals for reviews may be submitted via the online submission system as a pre-submission enquiry.
PLEASE NOTE: All reviews should include search criteria and selection criteria in a Methods Section, along with the total number of articles identified and the total number selected for inclusion in the review. All invited reviews will undergo peer review prior to acceptance.
Specifications: Unstructured abstract max. 300 words; Main body of text (excluding abstract, tables/figures, and references) not to exceed 6,000 words; Max 8 tables or figures (Note: composite figures containing more than three individual figures will count as two figures); Max 120 references

Technical Report:  Technical Reports are articles that address areas of more methodological interest. The contents of these Reports must have the same level of scientific rigour expected of an Article.
Specifications: Structured abstract max. 300 words; Main body of text (excluding abstract, tables/figures, and references) not to exceed 2,500 words; Max 4 tables or figures (Note: composite figures containing more than three individual figures will count as two figures); Max 25 references

Correspondence: Correspondence provides readers with a forum for comment on papers published in a previous issue of the journal or to address new issues relevant to the research community. Correspondences must reference the original source but can use an arbitrary title.
Specifications: No abstract required; Main body of text (excluding tables/figures, and references) not to exceed 500 words; Max 2 tables or figures (Note: composite figures containing more than three individual figures will count as two figures); Max 10 references

Brief Communication: These are studies that fall short of the criteria for full Articles (e.g. preliminary experiments limited by sample size or duration, or novel hypotheses). Apart from including an abstract, there is no obligation to divide the text into sections
Specifications: Unstructured abstract max. 200 words; Main body of text (excluding tables/figures, and references) not to exceed 1,500 words; Max 2 tables or figures (Note: composite figures containing more than three individual figures will count as two figures); Max 20 references

Editorial (by Editor invitation only):  Proposals for Editorials may be submitted; authors should only send an outline of the proposed paper for initial consideration.
Specifications: No abstract required; Main body of text (excluding tables/figures, and references) not to exceed 1,000 words; Max 2 tables or figures (Note: composite figures containing more than three individual figures will count as two figures); Max 10 references

Comment (by Editor invitation only): Comments discuss issues of particular significance to the field, or highlight significant papers, in IJO or elsewhere. Comments are usually solicited by the editors. If you wish to offer an unsolicited contribution, we ask you to first contact the editorial office with your request, including a short description of the content and implications of your comment
Specifications: No abstrcat required; Main body of text (excluding tables/figures, and references) not to exceed 750 words; Max 2 tables or figures (Note: composite figures containing more than three individual figures will count as two figures); Max 10 references

Due to the high volume of submissions that the Journal receives, the following manuscripts will be deemed low priority:

  • Simple prevalence studies involving a single country at a single time-point.
  • Studies that merely confirm established facts from previous publications and that contain little new information. For example, it is hard to justify publication space for studies that report obesity is associated with known health risks. Therefore, studies that replicate the findings of previously published papers will tend to have a lower priority. If similar data are already published, it will be critical for authors to explain the novelty of their manuscript in the covering letter to the editor
  • Those that involve co-morbidities of obesity (e.g. diabetes, cardiovascular disease), without having obesity-specific components to them. Recent examples include manuscripts that look at associations between inflammatory markers and diabetes or cardiovascular disease. This information is clearly of medical relevance, but is not necessarily a high priority for a journal devoted to obesity research.
  • Those that report the absence of links between obesity and a specific genotype or polymorphism; it is possible that such a work could be considered in the form of a Short Communication, but a full manuscript is not justified.
  • Those that describe anthropometric indices of obesity that might correlate with plasma markers of co-morbidities, but do not include any data relating to outcome of the co-morbidities.
  • Retrospective studies, secondary analyses of data that arise from studies that were not primary concerned with obesity or body weight, or clinical “audits” (for example of surgical interventions) that were not designed as appropriately controlled clinical research interventions, unless there is particularly novel information presented that is of importance to the medical literature.
  • Those that claim to be pediatric articles but which do not deal specifically with children and adolescents up to the age of 18 years.
  • Case reports that do not describe a critical finding or major addition to the literature.
  • Clinical trials less than one year in duration – see further details below.

If authors wish to submit articles to the International Journal of Obesity in the above areas, they would need to state clearly in the covering letter and introduction to the manuscript what is novel and informative about the study and why it is a valuable addition to the scientific literature.

Clinical Trials
The International Journal of Obesity is interested in attracting the submission of manuscripts describing new therapeutic approaches to obesity treatment. These human intervention trials of new therapies can be pharmacological, surgical, dietary, physical activity, nutraceutical (including herbal preparations), behavioural or some other relevant intervention, but must be novel, include an appropriate control group and be of a sufficiently long duration to generate results of clinical relevance. Trials which also consider maintenance of weight loss would be of particular interest. With regard to the duration of such trials, the following will apply:

  1. Diet / lifestyle /nutraceutical interventions. The total duration (weight loss plus weight maintenance) must be at least 1 year. Anything less than this is of little practical value and is highly unlikely to reveal any novel mechanistic findings. The only exception would be if a shorter period of intervention was accompanied by a truly novel mechanistic approach. Even then the study should be at least 3 months in duration and such papers normally would be submitted as Short Communications.
  2. Surgery Short term, post-surgery studies are of minimal value as many are likely to be in the rapid phase of weight loss and unlikely to achieve a state of weight maintenance. Thus, surgical studies should be 1 year or more in duration and linked with novel mechanistic/physiological measurements. The only exceptions would be if a shorter period of intervention were accompanied by a truly novel mechanistic approach and such papers normally would be submitted as Short Communications.
  3. Drug studies 1 year or longer studies with truly novel agents are unrealistic. However, a 3 month study with a truly novel agent would not normally deserve to be published as a full paper and should be submitted as a Short Communication if it is of less than 1 year duration. Any established drug being applied to obesity (e.g. the recent application of anti-depressants to an obesity target) or any obesity drug which has already produced publications demonstrating efficacy in humans MUST be studied for at least 1 year.

In addition to these trials of new therapeutic approaches, the International Journal of Obesity is also interested in publishing systematic reviews of weight loss and weight maintenance interventions in human subjects. However, these reviews and any associated meta-analyses should only be concerned with studies that are of a duration of at least 1 year. See the Editorial Policy section for further inform

Preparation of Articles

House Style: Authors should adhere to the following formatting guidelines

  • Text should be double spaced with a wide margin.
  • All pages and lines are to be numbered.
  • Do not make rules thinner than 1pt (0.36mm).
  • Use a coarse hatching pattern rather than shading for tints in graphs.
  • Colour should be distinct when being used as an identifying tool.
  • Spaces, not commas should be used to separate thousands.
  • At first mention of a manufacturer, the town (and state if USA) and country should be provided.
  • Statistical methods: For normally distributed data, mean (SD) is the preferred summary statistic. Relative risks should be expressed as odds ratios with 95% confidence interval. To compare two methods for measuring a variable the method of Bland & Altman (1986, Lancet 1, 307–310) should be used; for this, calculation of P only is not appropriate.
  • Units: Use metric units (SI units) as fully as possible. Preferably give measurements of energy in kiloJoules or MegaJoules with kilocalories in parentheses (1 kcal = 4.186kJ). Use % throughout.
  • Abbreviations: On first using an abbreviation place it in parentheses after the full item. Very common abbreviations such as FFA, RNA, need not be defined. Note these abbreviations: gram g; litre l; milligram mg; kilogram kg; kilojoule kJ; megajoule MJ; weight wt; seconds s; minutes min; hours h. Do not add ‘s’ for plural units.  Terms used less than four times should not be abbreviated.
  • People friendly language: The International Journal of Obesity would like to encourage its authors to use people friendly language in the articles published in the journal.  Thus, we encourage authors to use terms such as 'people with overweight or obesity' in manuscripts submitted to the journal.
  • Sex vs. Gender: There is a need to clarify the use of “gender” vs “sex” in manuscripts.  “Gender” is a self-identified term whereas “sex” is determined at birth by the presence or absence of a Y chromosome.  For biological studies, “sex” is the term that should be used in the International Journal of Obesity.  "Gender" may be used in manuscripts in which the participants have been asked to state their self-ascribed gender.  We would expect all pediatric studies to use the term sex, because the questionnaires which are typically used for children use the word "sex" and list only M/F. In addition, BMI charts are based on biological sex. For adult studies, in which the participants have greater agency in self-ascribing gender, which term is used depends on how sex or gender was determined in the study.  For example, if a survey is given to research participants asking how they categorize their own gender, then it should be stated throughout that the variable was "self-reported gender".  By contrast if they were simply asked whether they were Male or Female then it should be reported as sex.

Cover Letter: Authors should provide a cover letter that includes the affiliation and contact information for the corresponding author. Authors should briefly discuss the importance of the work and explain why it is considered appropriate for the diverse readership of the journal.  The cover letter should confirm the material is original research, has not been previously published and has not been submitted for publication elsewhere while under consideration. If the manuscript has been previously considered for publication in another journal, please include the previous reviewer comments, to help expedite the decision by the Editorial team. Please also include a Competing Interests statement - see Editorial Policies for more details.

Title Page: The title page should contain:

  • Title of the paper - brief, informative, of 150 characters or less and should not make a statement or conclusion. Should have no mention of tradenames/products.
  • Running title – should convey the essential message of the paper in no more than 50 characters.  Should not contain any abbreviations
  • Full names of all the authors and their affiliations, together with the name, full postal address, telephone number and e-mail address of the corresponding author. If authors regard it as essential to indicate that two or more co-authors are equal in status, they may be identified by an asterisk symbol with the caption ‘These authors contributed equally to this work’ immediately under the address list.
  • Competing Interests statement (see Editorial Policies section). Authors should disclose the sources of any support for the work received in the form of grants and/or equipment and drugs.

Abstract:  Articles must be prepared with a structured abstract designed to summarise the essential features of the paper in a logical and concise sequence under the following headings:

  • Background/Objectives: What was the main question or hypothesis tested?
  • Subjects/Methods: How many subjects were recruited, how many dropped out? Was the study randomised, case-controlled etc?
  • Interventions/methods used and duration of administration.
  • Results: Indicate 95% confidence intervals and exact P value for effects.
  • ​Conclusions: Answer (significant or not) to main question.

Introduction: The Introduction should assume that the reader is knowledgeable in the field and should therefore be as brief as possible but can include a short historical review where desirable.

Materials/Subjects and Methods:  This section should contain sufficient detail, so that all experimental procedures can be reproduced, and include references. Methods, however, that have been published in detail elsewhere should not be described in detail. Authors should provide the name of the manufacturer and their location for any specifically named medical equipment and instruments, and all drugs should be identified by their pharmaceutical names, and by their trade name if relevant.

Results:  The Results section should briefly present the experimental data in text, tables or figures. Tables and figures should not be described extensively in the text.

Discussion:  The Discussion should focus on the interpretation and the significance of the findings with concise objective comments that describe their relation to other work in the area. It should not repeat information in the results. The final paragraph should highlight the main conclusion(s), and provide some indication of the direction future research should take.

Acknowledgements: These should be brief, and should include sources of support including sponsorship (e.g. university, charity, commercial organisation) and sources of material (e.g. novel drugs) not available commercially.

Competing Interests:  Authors must declare whether or not there are any competing financial interests in relation to the work described. This information must be included at this stage and will be published as part of the paper, but should also be noted in the cover letter and on the title page. Please see the Competing Interests definition in the Editorial Policies section for detailed information.

References:  Only papers directly related to the article should be cited. Exhaustive lists should be avoided. References should follow the Vancouver format. In the text they should appear as numbers starting at one and at the end of the paper they should be listed (double-spaced) in numerical order corresponding to the order of citation in the text. Where a reference is to appear next to a number in the text, for example following an equation, chemical formula or biological acronym, citations should be written as (ref. X).  Example “detectable levels of endogenous Bcl-2 (ref. 3), as confirmed by western blot”.
All authors should be listed for papers with up to six authors; for papers with more than six authors, the first six only should be listed, followed by et al. Abbreviations for titles of medical periodicals should conform to those used in the latest edition of Index Medicus. The first and last page numbers for each reference should be provided. Abstracts and letters must be identified as such. Papers in press may be included in the list of references.
Personal communications can be allocated a number and included in the list of references in the usual way or simply referred to in the text; the authors may choose which method to use. In either case authors must obtain permission from the individual concerned to quote his/her unpublished work.

Journal article:
Belkaid Y, Rouse BT. Natural regulatory T cells in infectious disease. Nat Immunol. 2005; 6: 353–360.
Journal article, e-pub ahead of print:
Bonin M, Pursche S, Bergeman T, Leopold T, Illmer T, Ehninger G et al. F-ara-A pharmacokinetics during reduced-intensity conditioning therapy with fludarabine and busulfan. Bone Marrow Transplant. 2007; e-pub ahead of print 8 January 2007; doi:10.1038/sj.bmt.1705565
Journal article, in press:
Gallardo RL, Juneja HS, Gardner FH. Normal human marrow stromal cells induce clonal growth of human malignant T-lymphoblasts. Int J Cell Cloning (in press).
Complete book:
Atkinson K, Champlin R, Ritz J, Fibbe W, Ljungman P, Brenner MK (eds). Clinical Bone Marrow and Blood Stem Cell Transplantation. 3rd edn. (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2004).
Chapter in book:
Coccia PF. Hematopoietic cell transplantation for osteopetrosis. In: Blume KG, Forman SJ, Appelbaum FR (eds). Thomas' Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation. 3rd edn. (Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Malden, 2004) pp 1443–1454.
Syrjala KL, Abrams JR, Storer B, Heiman JR. Prospective risk factors for five-year sexuality late effects in men and women after haematopoietic cell transplantation. Bone Marrow Transplant. 2006; 37(Suppl 1): S4 (abstract 107).
Caocci G, Pisu S. Overcoming scientific barriers and human prudence [letter]. Bone Marrow Transplant. 2006; 38: 829–830.

Tables:  Tables should only be used to present essential data; they should not duplicate what is written in the text. All tables must be editable, ideally presented in Excel.  Each must be uploaded as a separate workbook with a title or caption and be clearly labelled, sequentially. Please make sure each table is cited within the text and in the correct order, e.g. (Table 3).  Please save the files with extensions .xls / .xlsx / .ods / or .doc or .docx. Please ensure that you provide a 'flat' file, with single values in each cell with no macros or links to other workbooks or worksheets and no calculations or functions.

Figure Legends:  These should be brief, specific and appear on a separate manuscript page after the References section.

Figures:  Figures and images should be labelled sequentially and cited in the text. Figures should not be embedded within the text but rather uploaded as separate files. The use of three-dimensional histograms is strongly discouraged unless the addition of the third dimension is important for conveying the results. Composite figures containing more than three individual figures will count as two figures. All parts of a figure should be grouped together.  Where possible large figures and tables should be included as supplementary material.
Detailed guidelines for submitting artwork can be found by downloading our Artwork Guidelines. Using the guidelines, please submit production quality artwork with your initial online submission. If you have followed the guidelines, we will not require the artwork to be resubmitted following the peer-review process, if your paper is accepted for publication.

Colour Charges
There is a charge if authors choose to publish their figures in colour in print publication (which includes the online PDF). VAT or local taxes will be added where applicable.
Colour charges will NOT apply to authors who choose to pay an article processing charge to make their paper Open Access.

  Number of colour illustrations








Cost:     Rest of world







per figure


Graphs, Histograms and Statistics
Plotting individual data points is preferred to just showing means, especially where N<10
If error bars are shown, they must be described in the figure legend
Axes on graphs should extend to zero, except for log axes
Statistical analyses (including error bars and p values) should only be shown for independently repeated experiments, and must not be shown for replicates of a single experiment
The number of times an experiment was repeated (N) must be stated in the legend

Supplementary Information: Supplementary information is material directly relevant to the conclusion of an article that cannot be included in the printed version owing to space or format constraints. The article must be complete and self-explanatory without the Supplementary Information, which is posted on the journal's website and linked to the article. Supplementary Information may consist of data files, graphics, movies or extensive tables.

Please submit supplementary figures, small tables and text as a single combined PDF document. Tables longer than one page should be provided as an Excel or similar file type. Please refer to the journal’s Data Policies, outlined in the Editorial Policies section of these guidelines for additional options for such files, and which provides guidance on alternatives to supplementary files for data deposition, linking, preservation, and storage.

For optimal quality video files, please use H.264 encoding, the standard aspect ratio of 16:9 (4:3 is second best) and do not compress the video. Important: Supplementary information is not copyedited, so please ensure that it is clearly and succinctly presented, that the style and terminology conform to the rest of the manuscript, and that any tracked-changes or review mark-ups are removed.

Authors should submit supplementary information files in the FINAL format as they are not edited, typeset or changed, and will appear online exactly as submitted. When submitting Supplementary Information, authors are required to: 

  • Include a text summary (no more than 50 words) to describe the contents of each file.
  • Identify the types of files (file formats) submitted.

Please note: We do not allow the resupplying of Supplementary Information files for style reasons after a paper has been exported in production, unless there is a serious error that affects the science and, if by not replacing, it would lead to a formal correction once the paper has been published. In these cases we would make an exception and replace the file; however there are very few instances where a Supplementary Information file would be corrected post publication.

Video summaries:  International Journal of Obesity allows authors to include video presentations as part of their submission in order to support and enhance their scientific research. Authors should include these videos as ‘Supplementary Material’ uploaded upon submission and can refer to these within the body of the text. This can be done in the same way you would upload any other supplementary information and the file should be clearly labelled ‘Video Presentation’. Please take note of the technical requirements listed below. Videos supplied will be published online in the electronic version of your article, therefore please note that since they cannot be included in the print version of the journal, that you include text at the end of the article stating that ‘Supplementary information is available on International Journal of Obesity's website’.

Tips for presentation:
1. The video should introduce the topic of the article, highlight the main results and conclusions, discuss the current status and potential future developments in the field
2. Videos should be uploaded as Supplementary Material when submitting
3. Please include a sentence or two to describe the file. This will accompany your video on the website
4. Write your script and practise first – explain any obscure terminology
5. Film in a quiet room against a plain (white if possible) background and ensure there is nothing confidential in view
6. Avoid using background music
7. Include figures, slides, video clips of the experiment, etc. to help explain your methods and results. Please try to include a mixture of you talking to the camera and slides – it is nice for viewers to see your face at times
8. Keep figures simple; don’t show raw data and ensure any text is legible. Do not include lots of small text or data that won’t be legible in a small video player that’s the size of a smartphone screen.
9. Please do not use images, music, or insignia in your video for which you do not own the copyright or have documented permission from the copyright holder.

Technical requirements:
Videos should be no more than 8 minutes long, maximum 30MB in size so that they can be downloaded quickly - the combined total size of all supplementary files must not exceed 150 MB.  Files should be submitted as .avi, .mov, .mp3, .mp4, .wav or .wmf.  Videos need to be in widescreen (landscape), ideally 16x9 but 4:3 is also acceptable with a resolution of at least 640 x 360 pixels.  Any videos that are not in the correct format will not be published. Files will be viewed by the editorial office for quality; however the onus for creating, uploading and editing the video falls on the author.

Subject Ontology 
Upon submission authors will be asked to select a series of subject terms relevant to the topic of their manuscript from our subject ontology. Providing these terms will ensure your article is more discoverable and will appear on appropriate subject specific pages on, in addition to the journal’s own pages.  Your article should be indexed with at least one, and up to four unique subject terms that describe the key subjects and concepts in your manuscript.  Click here for help with this.