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Obesity in America

Created on::
2010-03-24 14:12:48
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• Obesity is a life-threatening disease affecting 34% of adults in the U.S.; and nearly 67% of adults in the U.S. are either overweight or obese.
• Between 2000 and 2005, obesity (BMI ≥30) increased by 24%, morbid obesity (BMI ≥ 40) increased by 50% and super obesity (BMI ≥ 50) increased by 75%.
• In 2007, only one state (Colorado) had a prevalence of obesity less than 20%. Thirty states had a prevalence equal to or greater than 25%; three of these states (Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee) had a prevalence of obesity equal to or greater than 30%.


• As of 2006, 11% of preschoolers ages 2 to 5, 15% of children ages 6 to 11 and 18% of adolescents ages 12 to 19 are overweight.
• Overweight adolescents have a 70% chance of becoming overweight or obese adults. This increases to 80% if one or more parent is overweight or obese.
• One in five American 4-year-olds are considered obese and the rate is higher among American Indian children, with nearly a third of them obese.
• A study of 5- to 17-year-olds found that 70% of obese children had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease and 39% of obese children had at least two risk factors.


• Genetics: According to the National Institute of Health, several studies have shown that adopted children have weights closer to their biological parents than to their adoptive parents
• Metabolism: The resting metabolic rate (RMR) – the energy needed to keep the body functioning at rest – can vary substantially from one person to another, which may help explain why some people gain weight quicker than others and find it more difficult to lose weight
• Culture: Foods specific to certain cultures can contribute to obesity. Research also shows that individuals originally from other countries have difficulty adjusting to the calorie-rich foods offered in the U.S.
• Illness: Hypothyroidism, Cushing’s Syndrome and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome are a few of the medical conditions that are associated with weight gain
• Environment: Lifestyle, dietary habits, and physical activity, have a particularly strong influence on the likelihood of being or becoming obese
• Psychological: Many people overeat or binge to suppress emotions or escape from problems


• Morbid obesity is associated with more than 30 illnesses and medical conditions including: Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension and cancer. Other conditions include: asthma, osteoarthritis, joint degeneration, cirrhosis of the liver, venous stasis disease, infertility, pregnancy complications, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), chronic headaches, liver disease, sleep apnea, lower back pain and urinary incontinence
• Obesity is associated with 112,000 excess U.S. deaths each year;7 obese individuals have a 10 to 50% increased risk of death compared to individuals of healthy weight


• Overweight and obesity costs the U.S. healthcare system an estimated $117 billion annually,8 and since 1987, diseases associated with obesity account for 27% of the increases in medical costs.
• Lost productivity related to obesity among Americans ages 17 to 64 costs $3.9 billion a year.
• Obese individuals spend 36% more on health care costs and 77% more on medications per year than individuals of normal weight.


• Super obese: A person with a BMI of 50 or more o 50,000 adults are super obese in the U.S.

• Morbidly obese: A person with a BMI of 40 or more, or a BMI of 35 or more with an obesity-related disease, such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease or sleep apnea o 15 million adults are morbidly obese in the U.S.

• Obese: A person with a BMI of 30 – 39.9 o 64 million adults are obese in the U.S.

• Overweight: A person with a BMI of 25 – 29.9 o 134 million adults are overweight or obese in the U.S.


• The most common measurement tool to assess body fat, is calculated by dividing weight in kilograms by height in meters, squared:

Weight in kilograms
Height in meters2
1National Center for Health Statistics. Health, United States, 2008 With Chartbook Hyattsville, MD: 2009.
2 R. Sturm, Increases in Morbid Obesity In the USA: 2000-2005. Public Health. Published July 2007. 121(7): 492-6. [Cited 23 April 2009].
3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. U.S. Obesity Trends, 1985-2007. Updated 24 July 2008. [Cited 23 April 2009] Available From: http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/obesity/trend/maps/.
4 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity. Overweight in Children and Adolescents. Updated June 2007. [Cited 23 April 2009].
5 Desiree M. Seeyave, MBBS; Sharon Coleman, MPH; Danielle Appugliese, MPH; Robert F. Corwyn, PhD; Robert H. Bradley, PhD; Natalie S. Davidson, PhD; Niko Kaciroti, PhD; Julie C. Lumeng, MD. Ability to delay gratification at age 4 years and risk of overweight at age 11 years. Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine. Published 2009. 163(4):303-308.
6 National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Obesity – Halting the Epidemic by Making Health Easier At-A-Glance 2009. [Cited 23 April 2009]. Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/publications/AAG/pdf/obesity.pdf.
7 Flegal KM, Graubard BI, Williamson DF and Gail MH. Excess Deaths Associated with Underweight, Overweight, and Obesity. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2005; 293: 1861-1867.
8 Weight-Control Information Network. National Institutes of Health. Statistics Related to Overweight and Obesity. Updated June 2007. [Cited 23 April 2009]. Available from: http://www.win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/PDFs/stat904z.pdf.
9 R. Sturm. The Effects of Obesity, Smoking, and Drinking on Medical Problems and Costs. Health Affairs. Mar/Apr 2002: 245–253.

American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery