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Almost 9 in 10 adults may be overweight or obese by 2030

Obesity and overweight are worrisome conditions because of their impact on quality of life, premature death, and health care, as well as associated costs. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of many health problems, including diabetes, stroke, heart disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, breast cancer, and certain other types of cancer. By the year 2030, about 86 percent of Americans aged 18 and older may be overweight or obese, with related health care costs doubling every decade and reaching $956.9 billion in 2030 according to a new study.

The study was authored in part by Lan Liang, Ph.D., with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), and was led by Youfa Wang, M.D., Ph.D., of International Health and Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Coauthors included Drs. May Beydoun and Benjamin Caballero from Johns Hopkins and Shiriki Kumanyika from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. The study was based on several large national survey data sets collected over the past 3 decades, including those collected by AHRQ and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overweight is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 25 to 29.9.

According to the researchers, by 2030 half of U.S. adults, as a whole, will become obese, as will 97 percent of black women and 91 percent of Mexican-American men. The authors also estimate that by 2022, about 80 percent of adults may be overweight or obese, and 100 percent could be by 2048. But the prevalence will reach 100 percent in black women by 2034. Moreover, nearly one-third of all U.S. children and adolescents could become obese (body mass index is greater than the 95th percentile) by 2034, and the prevalence could increase to half by 2070. Black girls and Mexican-American boys are especially vulnerable—4 in 10 may become overweight or obese by 2030, and half by 2050.

For details, see "Will all Americans become overweight or obese? Estimating the progression and cost of the US obesity epidemic," by Drs. Wang, Beydoun, Liang, and others, published online in the July 24, 2008, Obesity. Reprints (AHRQ publication no. 08-R078) are available from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse.

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