Over the past several decades, the prevalence of obesity among adults and children in the United States has increased dramatically and is now reaching epidemic proportions. The prevalence of obesity in adults in the United States was 30.5 percent in 1999-2000. More than twice as many adults (nearly 65percent) were considered to be either overweight or obese. Some 6 million U.S. adults were considered morbidly obese in 2001. In 2002, an estimated 15 percent of all children aged 6 to 19 years were overweight. Obesity is more common in women, but men are more likely to be overweight.
Obesity is especially common among African Americans, American Indians, Native Hawaiians, and some Hispanic populations. Obesity is the second leading cause of preventable deaths; smoking is the first.
Obesity is associated with many significant health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, premature death, and decreased quality of life. Even modest weight loss can reduce an individual’s risk for these diseases and outcomes.
Research on Obesity and Overweight