Although obesity rates have not measurably increased in the past few years, levels are still high, making this disease an epidemic in the United States. Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater. BMI is calculated from a person’s weight and height and provides a reasonable indicator of body fat and weight categories that may lead to health problems. Obesity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, and type-2 diabetes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 34 percent of U.S. adults aged 20 and over are obese – that’s over 72 million people. Some other interesting facts:
- The rates of obese women (35.3 percent) are slightly higher than those of obese men (33.3 percent).
- Adults aged 40-59 had the highest obesity prevalence compared with other age groups. Approximately 40 percent of men in this age group are obese, compared with 28 percent of men aged 20-39, and 32 percent of men aged 60 and older. Among women, 41 percent of those aged 40-59 were obese, compared with 30.5 percent of women aged 20-39. Women aged 65 and older had obesity prevalence rates comparable with women in the 20 to 39 age group.
- There are large racial and ethnic disparities in obesity prevalence among women. Approximately 53 percent of non-Hispanic black women and 51 percent of Mexican-American women aged 40-59 are obese, compared with about 39 percent of non-Hispanic white women of the same age. Among women 60 and older, 61 percent of non-Hispanic black women were obese, compared with 37 percent of Mexican-American women and 32 percent of non-Hispanic white women.
Obesity is a problem that must be taken seriously. Luckily, more and more media coverage has been given to the disease in recent years, prompting some action. When other treatments have failed, obese individuals at risk of serious obesity-related comorbidities may consider bariatric surgery as a way to improve their health. Learn more about Weight Loss Surgery.