Published November 2013

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  • According to CDC, the disease of obesity affects about 78 million Americans1 and the ASMBS estimates about 24 million have severe or morbid obesity.
  • Obesity, categorized as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more, is linked to more than 40 diseases including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, osteoarthritis and cancer2,3
  • Obesity is associated with a 50-100% increased risk of premature death compared to healthy weight individuals4

    • Median survival is reduced by two-to-four years for individuals with BMI 30-35
    • Median survival is reduced by eight-to-ten years for individuals with BMI 40-45 (comparable to smoking)
  • Weight loss, as modest as 5 to 15% of total body weight in a person who is overweight or has obesity, reduces the risk factors for some diseases, particularly heart disease5
  • U.S. economic costs of the disease of obesity were $270 billion in 2011 and $72 billion for overweight individuals6

Prevalence – A Growing Epidemic

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) more than one-third (34.9%) of all U.S. adults are obese7, and the rate of adult obesity in the U.S. nearly tripled from 1960-201010

  • Non-Hispanic whites have the lowest age-adjusted rates of obesity (34.3%) compared with all Hispanics (39.1%), Mexican Americans (40.4%) and non-Hispanic blacks (49.5%)9

  • CDC reports no state had a prevalence of obesity less than 20% in 201210

    • 25% or more in 28 states
    • 30% or more in 13 states
    • Colorado the lowest (20.5%) and Louisiana the highest (34.7%)
  • CDC projects 42% of the population will suffer from obesity by 2030, a 33% increase in prevalence over the next two decades12
    • 11% of the population will suffer from severe obesity, accounting for a 130% increase

Obesity and the Medical Community

  • In June 2013, the American Medical Association, the nation’s largest physician group, recognized obesity “as a disease state with multiple pathophysiological aspects requiring a range of interventions to advance obesity treatment and prevention”13
  • The ASMBS officially recognized obesity as a disease when it endorsed a 2008 position statement from The Obesity Society (TOS) declaring obesity a disease 14
  • Other organizations classifying obesity as a disease include the American Medical Association (2013), American Association for Clinical Endocrinology (2012), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (2004), the Social Security Administration (1999) and the National Institutes of Health (1998)
  • The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s 2011 National Healthcare Disparities Report found, despite rising obesity rates, less patients are being informed that they are obese or overweight by their health care professionals,15 which may be a contributor to Americans using preventive care services at about half the recommended rate

Risks of Obesity – BMI of 30 is a Turning Point for Increased Disease

  • BMI is a strong predictor of overall mortality,16 and is associated with a 50-100% increased risk of premature dead compared to healthy weight individuals17
  • BMI 30-35 is associated with a reduction in median survival by two-to-four years15
  • People who are suffering from obesity or are overweight have an increased risk of developing more than 40 diseases and health conditions including 18,19:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Types of cancer
  • Infertility
  • Sleep apnea
  • Gallstones
  • Liver disease and gallbladder disease
  • Orthopedic problems
  • High blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and stroke

Obesity and Cancer

  • Several cancers, including esophagus, pancreas, colon and rectum, breast, endometrium, kidney, thyroid and gallbladder, are linked to obesity20

    • Obesity caused approximately 50,500 new cancer cases in women and 34,000 in men in 2007
    • By 2030, the number is expected to rise to 500,000 new cases in the U.S.
  • Excess weight and lack of sufficient physical activity causes between 25% to 33% of common cancers in the U.S. and other industrialized nations, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer21

Economics of Obesity

  • A study by Society of Actuaries showed obesity costs the U.S. economy $270 billion per year22

    • Attributed to increased need for medical care, and loss of economic productivity resulting from excess mortality and disability due to the rise in the economic costs associated with patients suffering from being overweight and obesity

      Science of Obesity

  • Obesity causes chronic inflammation as weight increases23
    • Excess fat cells release biochemicals that lead to inflammation, which can result in heart disease, hypertension and type 2 diabetes 24
  • Contributing factors to obesity include genetics, metabolism, behavior, environment and economic status25

Body Mass Index

  • Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on the calculation of a person’s height and weight


View the attached PDF for a full list of References.