Obesity is associated with significantly increased risk of more than 20 chronic diseases and health conditions that cause devastating consequences and increased mortality. Beyond the significant personal toll of obesity, related health complications are driving up health care costs and threatening employers' bottom lines.
Obesity is a complex chronic disease in which abnormal or excessive accumulation of body fat impairs health. Adult and adolescent obesity rates have more than doubled since the 1980s — in the U.S. today, obesity affects over 42% of adults and 20% of 12-19 year olds. Obesity and its related complications are major drivers of rising healthcare costs, diminished health-related quality of life, and the recent decline in U.S. life expectancy.
These downloadable STOP Fast Fact sheets are designed to provide basic information about the science of obesity and current strategies to address it.
Featured Fast Facts:
Obesity-Related Chronic Disease
"What chronic diseases are associated with obesity? Diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, osteoarthritis..."
The Prevalence of Adolescent Obesity
The U.S. obesity rate among adolescents aged 12 to 19 years old has risen to 20%, compared to 11% in 1988-1994.2 Disparities exist based on race and geographic location.
The chronic and life-threatening diseases of obesity and cancer have a complex relationship. Individuals with obesity are more likely to develop specific types of cancer. Every year about 5% of new cancer cases in men and 10% in women are attributable to excess body weight.
COVID-19 has pulled back the curtain on racial disparities in health care. Some communities of color are experiencing higher rates of hospitalization or death from COVID-19. These disparities are not limited to infectious diseases; racial minorities experience higher rates of chronic diseases, death, and disability compared with white Americans.
Because of the impact of COVID-19 on unemployment and the food delivery chain, many Americans are now experiencing food insecurity. Disruption of the food delivery chain may increase reliance on corner stores and increased intake of ultra-processed foods, which have been shown to cause obesity...
The average American will spend 1/3 of their life in the workplace. Obesity causes multiple chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers, as well as employee burnout and loss of productivity. The indirect costs of absenteeism and presenteeism associated with overweight and obesity among American workers may amount to more than $900
billion ($6,000 per employee).
Individuals with obesity incur significantly higher medical costs than individuals without obesity, both overall and for most major categories of health expenditures. Illnesses, injuries, or disabilities related to obesity can also affect an individual’s finances through work-related expenses.
Unfortunately, weight bias is exceedingly prevalent in our society and has been considered by some to be “the last socially acceptable form of discrimination.” Researchers found that participants reported more bias towards those with obesity than towards many other stigmatized groups.
Research shows that an overwhelming majority of physicians believe that they have a full or partial responsibility to ensure that patients receive obesity counseling.3 However, one study of providers’ knowledge of the current obesity treatment guidelines found that the majority of physicians are unaware of the latest recommendations.