Therapeutic Areas

Obesity is associated with serious health consequences

Obesity represents a state of excess storage of body fat and has recently been declared a disease by the American Medical Association. Although several classifications and definitions for degrees of obesity are accepted, the most widely accepted classifications are those from the World Health Organization (WHO), based on Body Mass Indix (BMI).

The WHO designations include the following:

  • Grade 1 Overweight (commonly and simply called overweight) BMI of 25-29.9 kg/m2
  • Grade 2 Overweight (commonly called obesity) BMI of 30-39.9 kg/m2
  • Grade 3 Overweight (commonly called severe or morbid obesity) BMI greater than or equal to 40 kg/m2

The prevalence of obesity among U.S. adults.2

The Costs of Obesity

Obesity is among the top health care challenges, having tripled in prevalence since the 1980s.1 In the United States, the prevalence of obesity is just over 36% in adults and 17% in youth. The prevalence of obesity was higher in women (38.3%) than in men (34.3%).2

$69 billion per year.

Annual cost to taxpayers and employers in the United States for healthcare services treating severe obesity (BMI of 35 kg/m2 or higher).1

Obesity is associated with a host of potential comorbidities (hypertension, type 2 diabetes mellitus, or dyslipidemia) that significantly increases the risk of morbidity and mortality in obese individuals. Although no cause-and-effect relationship has been clearly demonstrated for all of these comorbidities, amelioration of these conditions after substantial weight loss suggests that obesity probably plays an important role in their development.

Obesity Links and Information


  1. Y. Claire Wang, John Pamplin, Michael W. Long, Zachary J. Ward, Steven L. Gortmaker and Tatiana Andreyeva. Severe Obesity In Adults Cost State Medicaid Programs Nearly $8 Billion In 2013, Health Affairs, 34, no.11 (2015).
  2. Cynthia L. Ogden, Ph.D.; Margaret D. Carroll, M.S.P.H.; Cheryl D. Fryar, M.S.P.H.; and Katherine M. Flegal, Ph.D., Prevalence of Obesity Among Adults and Youth: United States, 2011–2014, NCHS Data Brief, No. 219, November 2015.

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