What is obesity?

Obesity for children is defined as a body mass index, or BMI, at or above the 95th percentile for children of the same age and sex.  BMI is a way to measure body fat based on height and weight.  Obesity for adults is defined as having a BMI of 30 or higher.

Children BMI Chart

Adolescent BMI chart – Credit: CDC

Adult BMI Chart

Adult BMI Chart – Credit: CDC

Obesity increases one’s risk factor for developing many serious conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, stroke, liver disease, sleep apnea and respiratory problems, osteoarthritis, and gynecological problems.

Obesity and Rising Healthcare Costs

People with obesity account for 37 percent of the United States’ population, but obesity-related diseases and health problems account for 61 percent of healthcare costs in the United States each year.  The costs exceed $147 billion per year, which is a major encumbrance for our healthcare system.

In 1990, every state had an obesity rate less than 14 percent. In 2000, 23 states had an obesity rate between 20 and 24 percent.  In 2010, 36 states had an obesity rate of at least 25 percent, and 12 states had an obesity rate of 30 percent or higher.

Researchers project that the obesity rate in America by 2030 will be about 50 percent, which could cause over six million cases of diabetes, five million cases of coronary heart disease, and half a million cases of cancer.

If obesity rates continue to increase exponentially, costs associated with obesity will become too large for federal healthcare systems to cover.  If obesity rates were reduced by only five percent, the government could save an estimated $611.7 billion on healthcare costs over the next twenty years.

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