Are Americans winning the war on weight gain? The truth is disappointing and inescapable. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently announced that obesity rates in the United States are stable but high across the country. More than one-third, or 78.6 million of U.S. adults are obese, and obesity is linked to life-threatening diseases including cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke, as well as poorer mental outcomes. Obesity causes a significant economic burden, as well. Medical costs for people with obesity are $1,429 higher per year than those of normal weight. The estimated annual medical costs of obesity in the United States was $147 billion in 2008 dollars.
Obesity has been increasing at a dramatic rate. Over the past 35 years, obesity rates have more than doubled. Today, the average adult American is more than 24 pounds heavier than in 1960.
Sadly, children have been profoundly affected by the obesity epidemic. Childhood obesity rates have more than tripled since 1980.
We understand that obesity is a complex health problem that is caused by many factors, including diet, level of physical activity, use of medications including antibiotics, and genetic factors.
Food industry marketing and advertising, and habits formed at home, school and the workplace also affect us.
As a physician concerned with the significant impact of obesity health, it is my mission to encourage children and adults to take control of their own lifestyle choices. Over 50 percent of all cancer is preventable by applying what we know right now in terms of diet, exercise, ending smoking, limiting or avoiding alcohol, protecting our skin from the sun, and managing stress. Overweight and obesity, diet and lack of exercise are responsible for about 30 percent of all cancer.