Obesity is one of the greatest public health epidemics in the world today. The condition is medically diagnosed according to the patient’s Body Mass Index (BMI), and a BMI higher than 25 is considered overweight, higher than 30 obesity and higher than 40 morbid obesity. The incidence of obesity varies according to region, age, ethnicity and other conditions.
Despite the differences in incidence, it is an increasing concern, due to the stress created on the body that can result in a series of related diseases, also known as comorbidities. These conditions include arthritis, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, venous stasis disease, soft tissue infections, congestive heart failure, stroke, fatty liver syndrome, gall bladder disease, depression, and acid reflux disease (GERD).
Obesity Statistics in the United States
According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), 69% of the adult American population is either overweight or obese, and over 35% is obese, which means approximately 79 million people. In addition, one in every 20 adults are considered extremely obese. The incidence is higher among adults, but childhood obesity is also concerning.
Since children grow at different paces, diagnosing the disease may be difficult, but it is estimated that one third of children and adolescents between 6 and 19 are overweight or obese and over one in every six of the same age are obese. In the United States, the imbalance that results in overweight is associated with eating and living habits, in addition to genetics.
Worldwide Obesity Statistics
The portal WorldObesity.org keeps track of obesity trends worldwide and revealed that the US is the country with the highest number of overweight and obese people from a selected group of 21 countries, representing the global panorama. However, when looking at obesity only, Kuwait surpasses the US, with almost 40% of its population. Scotland, Qatar, Croatia, England, Australia, Germany, Mexico, and Czech Republic complete the top 10 countries with high rates of overweight and obese populations.
The study “Poverty and Obesity in the U.S.,” published in 2011, found that high-income countries have greater rates of obesity than middle- and low-income countries. In addition to this trend, the researchers demonstrated the influence of economic growth in China and India, increasing the rates of obesity, as well as the American case, one of the wealthiest countries in the world.
Factors that Influence Obesity
Race is a factor that influences the incidence of obesity, and the statistics reveal that Hispanics and African-Americans are more likely to suffer from the condition than Caucasians. Currently, about 78.8% of Hispanics are overweight or obese, while 76.7% of the African-Americans are also affected, 66.7% of the Caucasians, and only 11.6% of Asian-Americans. Despite these numbers, morbid obesity affects in a greater manner African-Americans, followed by Caucasians and Hispanics.
Income and education are also importance factors that influence the incidence of obesity. The lowest the income, the highest the risk. A study conducted at the School of Nutrition and Health Promotion at Arizona State University revealed that fast food consumers with higher levels of income and education are more likely to use calorie count labeling used in some restaurant’s menus, to make healthier food choices.