Obesity in US

 Obesity US Population

  • The number of overweight and obese Americans has reached unprecedented levels, reducing healthy life expectancy and placing a growing strain on U.S. health care. The United States is by far the fattest country.
  •  One in three adults in the US are obese and two in three are overweight or obese, leaving barely one third as normal weight.1 6% of Americans are massively obese (morbid obesity) which put them at markedly increased health risk and substantially reduced life expectancy.
  • Today, 17 percent of children and adolescents are reported to be obese—a prevalence rate that is expected to increase over time (CDC obesity at a glance).
  • The highest rates of obesity are seen among black and Mexican American women.1
  • Demographic factors explained only eight percent of the rise in the share of obese adults over the last two decades to 2007.  The major contributors include: a rise in consumption of high-calorie foods (particularly snack foods); an increase in sedentary lifestyles resulting in less energy expenditure; and changes in family dynamics, work activity and environment. The calories consumed from soft drinks and snacks (chips, crackers, popcorn, and pretzels) have tripled in the last 30 years.
  • Healthcare expenditures attributable to overweight and obesity are estimated at $168 billion (nearly 17 percent of U.S. medical costs) according to a new research study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research in October 2010.
  • Obesity adds $2,800 to a person’s annual medical bills according to this report. CBO estimates that per capita spending for obese adults is 38 percent higher than that of normal-weight adults. Americans typically spend $124 per week for weight loss.
  • Obesity is a leading cause of preventable death in the United States, as well as a leading cause of disability and absenteeism. Gaining just 11 to 16 pounds doubles the risk of type 2 diabetes, while an increase of 17 to 24 pounds nearly triples this risk.2
  • Employers now offer an array of incentives that reward employees for taking part in wellness programs and for health improvement since most of the health expenditure of the employees is born by the employers in the US. This may be worth pursuing by the Indian employers at least to prevent employee absenteeism from poor health.
  • Incentives may include cash, gift cards, health insurance, premium reductions, health savings account contributions, personal and vacation-time accruals and merchandise-based rewards. Depending on the activity or program being rewarded, incentive values can vary dramatically—from $5 dollar gift cards to $1,000 premium credits. Legislation is currently underway to allow rewards for wellness programs of up to 30 percent of the cost of coverage, with the opportunity to increase this to 50 percent.


1. Is there a difference in obesity rates in men and women in the US?

A. Overall, 68% of U.S. adults are overweight or obese (72% of men and 62% of women). Thirty-two percent of children ages 2-19 are overweight or obese (32% of boys and 31% of girls).1


1. American Heart Association. Heart and Stroke Statistical Update2012.

2. Enas EA. How to Beat the Heart Disease Epidemic among South Asians: A Prevention and Management Guide for Asian Indians and their Doctors. Downers Grove: Advanced Heart Lipid Clinic  USA; 2011.

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