Obesity in the United States: Wikis


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Historical U.S. Obesity Rate, 1960-2004.[1]

Obesity in the United States has been increasingly cited as a major health issue in recent decades. While many industrialized countries have experienced similar increases, obesity rates in the United States are among the highest in the world with 64% of adults being overweight or obese, and 26% are obese.[2] Estimates of the number of obese American adults have been rising steadily, from 19.4% in 1997, 24.5% in 2004[3] to 26.6% in 2007.[4] Should current trends continue, 75% of adults in the United States are projected to be overweight and 41% obese by 2015.[5]

The direct medical cost of obesity and indirect economic loss to obesity has been estimated to be as high as $51.64 billion and $99.2 billion in 1995, respectively;[6] this rose to $61 billion and $117 billion in 2000.[7] Researchers for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and RTI International estimate that in 2003, obesity-attributable medical expenditures reached $75 billion.[8]



Obesity prevalence by state, 1985–2006.[9]

Obesity rates have increased dramatically for all population groups in the United States over the last several decades.[10] Between 1986 and 2000, the prevalence of severe obesity (BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2) quadrupled from one in two hundred Americans to one in fifty. Extreme obesity (BMI ≥ 50 kg/m2) in adults increased by a factor of five, from one in two thousand to one in four hundred. There have been similar increases seen in children and adolescents, with the prevalence of overweight in pediatric age groups nearly tripling over the same period. Approximately nine million children over six years of age are considered obese. Several recent studies have shown that the rise in obesity in the US is slowing, possibly explained by saturation of health-oriented media or a biological limit on obesity.[11]


By age group

Obesity was primarily a disease of the 2-4 decade of life, but this has changed in the last 2 decades. In the USA with at least 15-25 percent of children being considered obese, and these numbers are even higher in developing countries. What is more disturbing is that children whom are obese will likely grow up to be obese adults and prematurely develop complications of this dreadful disorder. [12]


Some newborns may be born big but this is more often a problem with a medical disorder. Unlike adults, newborns do not develop obesity. The number one cause of big babies is diabetes but this is not considered to be an obese baby.

Children & Teens

It is estimated that close to 25% of children and teenagers are either overweight or obese. These numbers are even more imposing in minorities like Pima Indians, Latinos, Asians and African Americans. This has partly been attributed to sedentary lifestyle and consumption of fast foods.


Of all populations, it is the elderly who have remained immune to obesity. Even though obesity is reported in the elderly, the numbers are still quite low and nowhere near the levels seen in the young adult population. It is speculated that socioeconomic factors may play a role in this age group when it comes to developing obesity. [13]

In the military

An estimated sixteen percent of active duty U.S. military personnel were obese in 2004, with the cost of remedial bariatric surgery for the military reaching $15 million in 2002. Obesity is currently the largest single cause for the discharge of uniformed personnel.[14]

Prevalence by state

The following figures were averaged from 2005–2007 adult data compiled by the CDC BRFSS program[15] and 2003–2004 child data from the National Survey of Children's Health.[16][17]

State Obese adults Overweight adults Obese children Obesity rank
Alabama 30.1% 65.4% 16.7% 3
Alaska 27.3% 64.5% 11.1% 14
Arizona 23.3% 59.5% 12.2% 40
Arkansas 28.1% 64.7% 16.4% 9
California 23.1% 59.4% 13.2% 41
Colorado 18.4% 55.0% 9.9% 51
Connecticut 20.8% 58.7% 12.3% 49
D.C. 22.1% 55.0% 14.8% 43
Delaware 25.9% 63.9% 22.8% 22
Florida 23.3% 60.8% 14.4% 39
Georgia 27.5% 63.3% 16.4% 12
Hawaii 20.7% 55.3% 13.3% 50
Idaho 24.6% 61.4% 10.1% 31
Illinois 25.3% 61.8% 15.8% 26
Indiana 27.5% 62.8% 15.6% 11
Iowa 26.3% 63.4% 12.5% 19
Kansas 25.8% 62.3% 14.0% 23
Kentucky 28.4% 66.8% 20.6% 7
Louisiana 29.5% 64.2% 17.2% 4
Maine 23.7% 60.8% 12.7% 34
Maryland 25.2% 61.5% 13.3% 28
Massachusetts 20.9% 56.8% 13.6% 48
Michigan 27.7% 63.9% 14.5% 10
Minnesota 24.8% 61.9% 10.1% 30
Mississippi 31.7% 67.4% 17.8% 1
Missouri 27.4% 63.3% 15.6% 13
Montana 21.7% 59.6% 11.1% 45
Nebraska 26.5% 63.9% 11.9% 18
Nevada 23.6% 61.8% 12.4% 36
New Hampshire 23.6% 60.8% 12.9% 35
New Jersey 22.9% 60.5% 13.7% 42
New Mexico 23.3% 60.3% 16.8% 38
New York 23.5% 60.0% 15.3% 37
North Carolina 27.1% 63.4% 19.3% 16
North Dakota 25.9% 64.5% 12.1% 21
Ohio 26.9% 63.3% 14.2% 17
Oklahoma 28.1% 64.2% 15.4% 8
Oregon 25.0% 60.8% 14.1% 29
Pennsylvania 25.7% 61.9% 13.3% 24
Rhode Island 21.4% 60.4% 11.9% 46
South Carolina 29.2% 65.1% 18.9% 5
South Dakota 26.1% 64.2% 12.1% 20
Tennessee 29.0% 65.0% 20.0% 6
Texas 27.2% 64.1% 19.1% 15
Utah 21.8% 56.4% 8.5% 44
Vermont 21.1% 56.9% 11.3% 47
Virginia 25.2% 61.6% 13.8% 27
Washington 24.5% 60.7% 10.8% 32
West Virginia 30.6% 66.8% 20.9% 2
Wisconsin 25.5% 62.4% 13.5% 25
Wyoming 24.0% 61.7% 8.7% 33

Medical costs

An obese Hawaiian woman.

There has been an increase in obesity-related medical problems, including type II diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and disability.[18] In particular, diabetes has become the seventh leading cause of death in the United States,[19] with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimating in 2008 that fifty-seven million adults aged twenty and older were pre-diabetic, 23.6 million diabetic, with 90–95% of the latter being type 2-diabetic.[20]

Obesity has been cited as a contributing factor to approximately 100,000–400,000 deaths in the United States per year[10] and has increased health care use and expenditures,[18][21][22][23] costing society an estimated $117 billion in direct (preventive, diagnostic, and treatment services related to weight) and indirect (absenteeism, loss of future earnings due to premature death) costs.[24] This exceeds health-care costs associated with smoking or problem drinking[23] and accounts for 6% to 12% of national health care expenditures in the Unites States.[25]

The Medicare and Medicaid programs bear about half of this cost.[23] Annual hospital costs for treating obesity-related diseases in children rose threefold, from $35 million to $127 million, in the period from 1979 to 1999,[26] and the inpatient and ambulatory healthcare costs increased drastically by $395 per person per year.[22] These trends in healthcare costs associated with pediatric obesity and its comorbidities are staggering, urging the surgeon general to predict that preventable morbidity and mortality associated with obesity may surpass those associated with cigarette smoking.[21][27] Furthermore, the probability of childhood obesity persisting into adulthood is estimated to increase from approximately twenty percent at four years of age to approximately eighty percent by adolescence,[28] and it is likely that these obesity comorbidities will persist into adulthood.[29]

Anti-obesity efforts

Under pressure from parents and anti-obesity advocates, many school districts moved to ban sodas, junk foods, and candy from vending machines and cafeterias.[30] State legislators in California, for example, passed laws banning the sale of machine-dispensed snacks and drinks in elementary schools in 2003, despite objections by the California-Nevada Soft Drink Association. The state followed more recently with legislation to prohibit their soda sales in high schools starting July 1, 2009, with the shortfall in school revenue to be compensated by an increase in funding for school lunch programs.[31] A similar law passed by the Connecticut General Assembly in June 2005, however, was vetoed by governor Jodi Rell, who stated the legislation "undermines the control and responsibility of parents with school-aged children."[32]

In mid-2006, the American Beverage Association (including Cadbury Schweppes, Coca Cola and PepsiCo) agreed to a voluntary ban on the sale of all high-calorie drinks and all beverages in containers larger than 8, 10 and 12 ounces in elementary, middle and high schools, respectively.[33][34]

Non-profit organizations such as HealthCorps work to educate people on healthy eating and advocate for healthy food choices in an effort to combat obesity.[35]

The American First Lady Michelle Obama is leading an initiative to combat childhood obesity entitled "Let's Move". Mrs. Obama says she aims to wipe out obesity "in a generation".


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  3. ^ (PDF) Early Release of Selected Estimates Based on Data From the 2004 National Health Interview Survey, CDC NCHS, 2005-06-21, http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhis/earlyrelease/200506_06.pdf, retrieved 2008-03-15 
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  8. ^ Obesity Costs States Billions in Medical Expenses, CDC, 2004-01-21, http://www.cdc.gov/od/oc/media/pressrel/r040121.htm, retrieved 2008-03-31 
  9. ^ "Obesity and Overweight: Trends: U.S. Obesity Trends 1985–2006". CDC. 2007-07-27. http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/obesity/trend/maps/. Retrieved 2008-03-08. 
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  11. ^ U.S. obesity rates reaching a resting point, studies show
  12. ^ Epidemic obesity and childhood MedicineNet. Retrieved on 2010-02-04
  13. ^ An overview on obesity Emedicine Health. Retrieved on 2010-02-04
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  17. ^ Blumberg, S J; Olson, L; Frankel, MR; Osborn, L; Srinath, K P; Giambo, P (2005), "Design and operation of the National Survey of Children’s Health" (PDF), Vital Health Statistics 1 (43), http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_01/sr01_043.pdf 
  18. ^ a b Andreyeva, Tatiana; Sturm, Roland; Ringel, Jeanne S (2004), "Moderate and Severe Obesity Have Large Differences in Health Care Costs", Obesity Research 12 (12): 1936–1943, doi:10.1038/oby.2004.243 
  19. ^ Chamberlain, Joan (2008) (PDF), Fact sheet: Type 2 diabetes, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, http://www.nih.gov/about/researchresultsforthepublic/Type2Diabetes.pdf 
  20. ^ (PDF) Diabetes Prevention Program, Department of Health and Human Services, 2008, http://www.diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/preventionprogram/DPP.pdf 
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  23. ^ a b c Finkelstein, E.A. Fiebelkorn (2003), "National medical spending attributable to overweight and obesity: how much, and who’s paying" (PDF), Health Affairs 3 (1): 219–226, http://content.healthaffairs.org/cgi/reprint/hlthaff.w3.219v1.pdf 
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  26. ^ Wang, Guijing; Dietz, William H (2002), "Economic Burden of Obesity in Youths Aged 6 to 17 Years: 1979–1999", Pediatrics 109 (5): e81, doi:10.1542/peds.109.5.e81, http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/reprint/109/5/e81 
  27. ^ (PDF) The Surgeon General’s call to action to prevent and decrease overweight and obesity, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2001, http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/topics/obesity/calltoaction/CalltoAction.pdf, retrieved 2008-02-22 
  28. ^ Guo, W C; Chumlea (March 27, 1999), "Tracking of body mass index in children in relation to overweight in adulthood", The American journal of clinical nutrition 70 (1): 145–148, http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=1911529 
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  30. ^ Otto, Mary; Aratani, Lori (2006-05-04). "Soda Ban Means Change at Schools". Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/03/AR2006050302399_pf.html. Retrieved 2008-03-08. 
  31. ^ Finz, Stacy (2006-05-22). "State high school soda ban expected on books by 2009". San Francisco Chronicle. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/05/22/SODA.TMP. Retrieved 2008-03-08. 
  32. ^ Cowan, Alison Leigh (2005-06-15), Rell Vetoes Junk-Food Limit in Connecticut's Public Schools, New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/15/nyregion/15junk.html, retrieved 2009-11-30 
  33. ^ Mayer, Caroline (2006-05-03). "Sugary Drinks To Be Pulled From Schools: Industry Agrees to Further Limit Availability to Children". Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/03/AR2006050302399_pf.html. Retrieved 2008-03-08. 
  34. ^ Burros, Marian; Warner, Melania (2006-05-04). "Bottlers Agree to a School Ban on Sweet Drinks". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/04/health/04soda.html?_r=1&oref=slogin&pagewanted=print. Retrieved 2008-03-08. 
  35. ^ Good Morning America http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/OnCall/story?id=4711843

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