The obesity epidemic in America is a growing concern for our country. Over 40% of the American population is considered obese. Obesity can significantly increase a patient’s healthcare costs and negatively impact overall quality of life. Studies show obesity can reduce a patient’s life expectancy up to 10 years and significantly increases the risk for many leading causes of death, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some cancers.
Obesity Epidemic in America
Obesity is classified using the body mass index scale, which is a calculation of weight divided by height. A BMI of 25 to 30 is considered overweight, 30 to 35 is obese, and 35+ is considered morbidly obese.
Nearly 43% of adults in America are considered overweight or obese, while about 20% of children suffer from this disease. The most significant prevalence of obesity is in black adults, with 49.6% considered obese, followed by Hispanic adults at a 44.8% obesity rate. White adults have a 42.2% prevalence of obesity, and Asian adults have a 17.4% obesity rate.
In general, obesity is more likely to impact lower socioeconomic groups, most likely resulting from a lack of access to healthy foods and resources that can help them live healthier lives.
When looking at a map of obesity in America, every state has an obesity rate greater than 20%. The most significantly impacted state is Mississippi, with an obesity rate of 40.8%. Yet, according to the America Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, Mississippi ranks 45th in the number of bariatric procedures performed per capita.
“Bariatric surgery remains one of the most underutilized treatments in America. There is great variability in its application because of barriers to access including insurance coverage, economic conditions, and other factors,” quotes Dr. Wayne J. English, FACS.
There is a great need for bariatric coverage in all 50 states so that a patient’s education and treatment are not limited by where they live.
Impact of Obesity on Health
Obesity is the gateway to all kinds of medical conditions. It is linked to over 60 chronic diseases and puts a patient at risk of developing serious medical conditions, a lower quality of life, and premature death.
Unfortunately, the longer an individual suffers from obesity, the more significant impact these conditions will have on their health. Childhood obesity is proven to significantly impact physical and psychological health.
Children living with obesity are likely to suffer more serious consequences in the long term if their weight is not addressed. Similarly, children who suffer from obesity are more likely to stay obese throughout their adult life, increasing their chances of suffering from serious conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and even death.
Treating obesity can add more than ten years to your life expectancy and reduce or cure all of the weight-related medical conditions. It is necessary to recognize the obesity epidemic in America as a serious issue and treat obesity as a chronic disease.
This article was originally published on the Bariatric Centers of America website.