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Obesity Is a Disease

Obesity is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health.1

Obesity Is a Disease

Obesity is a chronic disease affecting 95 million people. That’s more than 3x the number of adults with diabetes.1

Obesity is a chronic disease affecting 95 million adults
Obesity is a chronic disease affecting 95 million adults

Obesity is a chronic disease affecting 95 million adults. That’s more than 3x the number of adults with diabetes.2,3

How obesity ranks compared with some other health challenges in the US

Millions of adults have health challenges. Obesity is one of the most prevalent.

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About 75 million adults in the US with high blood pressure
about 75 million adults in the US with high blood pressure
78 million adults in the US with high cholesterol who require medicine
78 million adults in the US with high cholesterol who require medicine

aVersus 95 million adults with obesity.

About 40% of all cancers diagnosed in the US have been associated with overweight and obesity

13 cancers associated with excess weight and obesity

Data from 2014 CDC report.6

Watch Donna’s story about living with obesity and how it affected her

People with obesity in the US have higher health care costs than those of normal weight7,8,a,b

With increased medical spending, obesity can become an economic burden on both public and private payers.

Graph depicting increased healthcare costs associated with obesity

aThe WHO defines overweight as a BMI greater than or equal to 25, while obesity is defined as a BMI greater than or equal to 30.

bHealth care costs associated with obesity are mostly due to treating obesity-related comorbidities.

Adapted from Finkelstein EA, Trogdon JG, Cohen JW, Dietz W. Annual medical spending attributable to obesity: payer- and service-specific estimates. Health Aff (Millwood). 2009;28(5):w822-w831.

ACTION Study

Do you know about the ACTION study?

The ACTION Study is the first nationwide US study to investigate the barriers to obesity management. It identified multiple barriers to weight management for people living with obesity.9

ACTION Study

How well do you know obesity?

Learn more about this chronic disease

How well do you know obesity?

Learn more about this chronic disease

Recommended for you

Your leadership matters

1. WHO Consultation on Obesity. Obesity: preventing and managing the global epidemic: report of a WHO consultation. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 1999. WHO technical report series 894.

2. CDC Adult Obesity Facts; Prevalence of Obesity Among Adults age 20 and over: United States, 2013-2014; Obesity as defined as adults w/BMI ≥30.

3. National diabetes and statistics report: estimates of diabetes and its burden in the United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pdfs/data/statistics/national-diabetes-statistics-report.pdf. Accessed October 15, 2018.

4. High blood pressure fact sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. https://www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fs_bloodpressure.htm. Accessed June 2016.


5. High cholesterol facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. https://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/facts.htm. Accessed November 10, 2018.

6. Cancers associated with overweight and obesity make up 40 percent of cancers diagnosed in the United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2017/p1003-vs-cancer-obesity.html. Accessed October 15, 2018.

7. Finkelstein EA, Trogdon JG, Cohen JW, Dietz W. Annual medical spending attributable to obesity: payer- and service-specific estimates. Health Aff (Millwood). 2009;28(5):w822-w831.

8. Obesity and overweight. World Health Organization website. http://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/obesity-and-overweight. Accessed October 15, 2018.

9. Kaplan LM, Golden A, Jinnett K, et al. Perceptions of barriers to effective obesity care: results from the National ACTION Study. Obesity. 2018;26(1):61-69.