The Epidemic

Americans are getting bigger all the time, and when it comes to our body’s weight relationship to our overall health, bigger is not better.

Unfortunately, the epidemic proportions of obesity raises concern because of its implications for our overall health. Obesity increases the risk of many diseases and health conditions including:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Osteoarthritis (a degeneration of cartilage and its underlying bone within a joint)
  • Dyslipidemia (for example, high total cholesterol or high levels of triglycerides)
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
  • Some cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon)

About two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese.  Nearly one-third of U.S. adults are obese
From 1960 to 2004, the prevalence of overweight increased from 44.8 to 66 percent in U.S. adults age 20 to 74.

Approximately 17.5 percent of children (age 6 to 11) and 17 percent of adolescents (age 12 to 19) were overweight in 2001 to 2004. If present trends continue, one in every three children born after the year 2000 will develop diabetes in their lifetime.

Individuals who are obese have a 10- to 50-percent increased risk of death from all causes, compared with healthy weight individuals (BMI 18.5 to 24.9). Most of the increased risk is due to cardiovascular causes.

Obesity is associated with about 112,000 excess deaths per year in the U.S. population relative to healthy weight individuals.

The estimated total cost of obesity in the United States in 2000 was about $117 billion.

Data are based on NHANES 2001 to 2004.