Prevalence of Obesity

Prevalence of Obesity
Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30 kg/m2. It has become a worldwide epidemic, affecting 2.1 billion people. It is predicted that 50% of the world’s population will be overweight or obese by 2030 if the current trend persists. It is more prevalent in developed countries where food is abundant and the lifestyle doesn’t require extensive physical activity. The concern about obesity is not the condition itself but the consequences. Epidemic proportions of obesity means epidemic proportion of health problems and this is preventable.

Worldwide, 37% of men and 38% of women are obese. In the United States, approximately 35% of adults are obese and one-third of children are overweight or obese. Morbid obesity (BMI more than 40 kg/m2) had a reported prevalence of 6% in 2009-2010. This information is supported by self-reported and measured data. The prevalence of obesity increased by over 50% from 1988-1994 to 2007-2008 but has been stable 2003-2004 until 2011-2012.

Overweight and obese individuals have a higher risk of mortality and morbidity compared to those of normal weight. Individuals with a BMI 22.5-25 kg/m2 have the lowest mortality rate of all groups. Those with a BMI >30 have a 2-3 fold increase in risk compared to those with a normal BMI. There is a 30% increase in risk for every 5 kg/m2 gained. For individuals over the age of 50 who are obese, there is a higher death rate for all causes. Obese individuals have a 1.4 fold increase in death from heart disease and stroke while the risk is 2 times greater from diabetes. 80% of all cases of adult onset diabetes (Type 2 diabetes) are due to obesity. Excessive body weight causes over 25% of the cases of hypertension and there is a known association of obesity with cancers of the breast, endometrium, colon and others.

Another scary statistics relates to life expectancy. The life expectancy is 6-7 years less in an obese individual compared to those with a normal BMI. Overweight individuals live 3-4 years less. This is worsened by the presence of other risk factors. Those who smoke and are obese live 13-14 years less than those of normal body mass.

There are also financial consequences of obesity. According to the McKinsey the global cost of obesity is approximately $2 trillion/year, which is equivalent to those attributed to smoking. The annual cost of healthcare expenditures is 25% greater in those with BMI 30-34.9 kg/m2 and 44% greater among those with 35 kg/m2 BMI or greater compared to those with BMI of 20-24.9 kg/m2. In addition those who are overweight or obese are 2 times more likely to draw disability and take twice as much sick leave as those of normal weight. This further supports the fact that obesity contributes to poor health.

The good news is that there is something that can be done. Overweight and obese individuals who are fit have a similar death risk as those fit individuals of normal weight. Exercising and a healthy life-style including diet makes a significant difference. So if you haven’t started, now is a good time to begin a regular exercise program and begin a nutritious diet. Do it for yourself and your family.

I hope this article has provided you with information that will help you make wise choices, so you may:

Live healthy, live well and live long!


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