May 2020

Prevalence of Obesity in US Continues Upward Trend #1162174122

Nearly 1 out of every 2 US adults will be obese by 2030, and nearly 1 in 4 will be severely obese, according to estimates published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Researchers used 1993-2016 data on 6.3 million US adults who participated in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System to project the prevalence of different body-mass index (BMI) categories through 2030. Among the other findings:

By 2030, the prevalence of obesity (BMI at or above 30) will be above 50% in 29 states. No state will be below 35%.

In Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and West Virginia, obesity prevalence is projected to reach 58%.

Severe obesity (BMI at or above 35) will likely be the most common BMI category for women (28%), black adults (32%), and those with low income (32%).

The authors write: “Given that health professionals are often poorly prepared to treat obesity, this impending burden of severe obesity and associated medical complications has implications for medical practice and education. In addition to the profound health effects, such as increased rates of chronic disease and negative consequences on life expectancy, the effect of weight stigma may have far-reaching implications for socioeconomic disparities as severe obesity becomes the most common BMI category among low-income adults in nearly every state.”

Source: Ward ZJ, Bleich SN, Cradock AL, et al. Projected US state-level prevalence of adult obesity and severe obesity. N Eng J Med. 2019;381:2440-2450.

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