Obesity Statistics & Facts: Causes, Complications & Treatments

Obesity Statistics 1

Obese or overweight individuals deal with various health issues, drawbacks, and worries. In actuality, obesity raises an individual’s chances for a wide range of illnesses and medical issues. Statistics on obesity show that an expanding waistline is a global problem that affects millions of people from almost every country around the world. The prevalence of obesity has risen globally over the past 33 years. A statistic of this kind -demonstrates how most Americans’ ability to balance a healthy body weight has become.

Obesity is a major societal problem. Figures from single care show that approximately 70% of adult Americans are either obese or overweight. Aside from being linked to a wide range of health problems, mental health difficulties, cardiovascular diseases, and the risk of having type 2 diabetes, exploring the facts behind the trend are more crucial than ever before. To this effect, we will explore what obesity is all about, its causes and consequences, and the latest statistics and facts.

Obesity Categorization

What Defines Obesity?

You can be mistaken even when you think that a person is obese. A clinical definition determines whether a person is obese, overweight, normal, or extremely obese. However, BMI ranges are the only criteria that justify who is fat or not. Here is the obesity categorization chart that medical practitioners utilize to define who is obese or not;

BMIWeight Class
Under 18Underweight
18 to <25Normal Weight Range
25 to <30Overweight
30 to <35Obese (Class 1)
35 to <40Obese (Class 2)
>40Obese (Class 3) or Severely Obese

The obesity ranges above are recognized as benchmarks by organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Likewise, the health care industry considers these values as a norm.

Global Statistics of Obesity by Sex

What Causes Obesity?

An imbalance in energy between calories burned and consumed causes obesity. Around the world, there have been;

  • a rise in lifestyle factors brought on by the inactive nature of several jobs, shifting transit options, and expanding urbanization;
  • a surge in consuming foods with lots of sugar and fat extremely high in calories.

Inadequate government policies in areas including food processing, education, agriculture, urban planning, and health often lead to environmental and sociological changes that affect nutrition and physical activity habits. Source: WHO

Genetics Causes of Obesity

There are some rare genetic conditions that cause obesity in families such as Prader-Willi syndrome. This condition is as a result of a genetic defect on chromosome 15 and results in various mental, physical and behavioral problems.

Some of these problems include:

  • A never-ending desire to eat more food due to a permanent feeling of hunger.
  • Reduced muscle tone.
  • Restricted growth.
  • Lack of sexual development.
  • Learning difficulties.
  • Behavioral issues such as tantrums and stubbornness.

Other genetic traits that can also run in families can be having an enormous appetite. Despite these genetic factors, however, establishing and maintaining a proper diet and healthy lifestyles can help affected individuals to lead a healthy life.

Medical Reasons

Some medical conditions can contribute to weight gain and lead to obesity such as an underactive thyroid gland and Cushing’s syndrome. Some medications such as those taken to treat diabetes, epilepsy and mental illness can also contribute to weight gain and obesity.

Overall Obesity Rate by Age Group in U.S

How Many People Are Obese: Statistics

The obesity rate in the United States is rising. Although the obesity rate for 2022 is not yet known, recent research reveals a rising trend. The findings of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey demonstrate this basis:

Survey period20 – 3940 – 5960 and over 20 – 3940 – 5960 and over20 – 3940 – 5960 and over
2015 – 201635.742.841.034.840.838.536.544.743.1
2017 – 201840.044.842.840.346.442.239.743.343.3
Prevalence (%) of obesity among adults aged 20 and over, by sex and age: the United States, 2015 – 2018. SOURCE: National Center for Health Statistics, National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, 2015 – 2018

What Race Is Obesity Most Commonly Found?

Survey period    SexNon-Hispanic whiteNon-Hispanic blackNon-Hispanic AsianHispanicMexican American
2015 – 2016
2017 – 2018
2015 – 2016
2017 – 2018
2015 – 2016
2017 – 2018
Age-adjusted prevalence of obesity among adults aged 20 and over, by sex and race and Hispanic origin: the United States, 2015–2018
SOURCE: National Center for Health Statistics, National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, 1988–1994 and 1999–2018.

Overall Obesity Rate by Race in U.S

What Is The Obesity Rate In The World?

Based on studies by industry professionals, high-income nations have historically struggled with obesity. But obesity has been rising, particularly in cities, in middle- and low-income countries. Globally, obesity has grown tremendously since 1975, according to WHO. The prevalence of obesity has increased from 1% to almost 7% between the age group of 5 to 19 over that period. Over 1.9 billion adults (or 39 percent) in 2016 were overweight, and over 650 million (or 13 percent) were obese. (Source: WHO)

Global Statistics of Obese People by Sex:

From WHO international 2016 figures:

  • 39% of males and 40% of women were overweight
  • 11% of males and 15% of women were obese.

Does Obesity Affect Children All Over The World?

According to the WHO international 2016 statistics:

  • Worldwide, 41 million children below the age of five were obese or overweight;
  • 340 million people worldwide, ages 5 to 19, are obese or overweight;
  • Since 2000, there has been an almost 50% rise in the proportion of overweight children in Africa under the age of 5;
  • Asia is home to about half of all children under the age of five worldwide.

What Country Has The Highest Obesity Rate?

The respective nations below have the greatest prevalence of overweight and obese individuals, based on WHO data gathered in 2016:

CountryProportion (%)
Cook Islands55.9
Marshall Islands52.9
Micronesia 45.8
United States36.2

The Pacific Islands’ elevated rates of obesity are mostly caused by a switch from indigenous meals to imported foods from nations including the Philippines, China, and Malaysia.

What Country Has The Least Obesity Rate?

Based on WHO data, obesity rates were lowest in the following countries:

Country Proportion (%)
Republic of Korea4.7
Sri Lanka5.2

What Are The Facts About Obesity?

  • The rates of obesity in the US surged from 30.5 percent to 41.9 percent between 1999 and 2000 and through 2017 and March 2020. The incidence of severe obesity rose from 4.7 percent to 9.2 percent throughout the same period.
  • In 2019, the total estimated medical expense for obesity in the US was around $173 billion. Adults with obesity had medical expenses that were $1,861 more than those for people who were in a normal weight range.
  • You run an increased chance of developing several illnesses and problems if you are obese or overweight, as over 60 chronic diseases are associated with obesity.
  • Children that are obese or overweight are five times more prone than children within the normal weight range to become obese or overweight as adults.
  • Medical researchers found the chances of developing type 2 diabetes were 20 times higher in men with waist circumferences within the top 10% of measurements than in men with waist circumferences in the bottom 10 percent.
  • Your ethnicity may influence your risk of obesity. Obesity affects over half (48.4%) of non-Hispanic Black persons and 42.6% Hispanics. The next groups comprise 36.4% non-Hispanic whites (36.4%) and 12.6% non-Hispanic Asians (12.6%).
  • In 2017, the obesity rate was over 20% in all the 50 states in the USA. However, None of the states had a rate above 15% barely 20 years ago. Source: CDC
  • Americans consume 23% additional calories today than they did in 1970. Pew Research
  • Compared to people of ideal weight, those who are obese or overweight skip work days by roughly 56%. On average, employees with normal weight miss three days annually, compared to two more days for obese and overweight people.
  • Among the top five major causes of death worldwide -is obesity. Every year, it results in over 2.8 million fatalities. Source: WHO

Health Complications of Obesity

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes occurs when blood sugar levels are above normal. As a result, high blood sugar can cause kidney disease, heart disease, blindness, amputation, and stroke. Family history is a strong factor in the developing of type 2 diabetes. Other factors that increase the risk include poor diet, excess fat around the waist circumference and low activity levels.

It is believed that obesity causes cellular changes that increase resistance to the hormone insulin. Insulin is responsible for carrying sugar from the bloodstream to the cells to be used as energy.

An insulin resistance in the body results in the body’s inability to absorb blood sugar in the cells leading to high blood sugar. The insulin-producing cells must also work extra hard to maintain normal blood sugar levels, and over time, this can cause the cells to fail.

High Blood Pressure

As your heart beats, blood is pushed to the rest of your body through the arteries. Blood pressure is a measure of how hard blood pushes against the walls of the arteries. High blood pressure can cause serious health complications such as strokes, heart disease, and kidney failure.

Normal blood pressure is registered as 120/80 mm Hg. One is considered to have high blood pressure when the top figure also called systolic blood pressure measures 140 or over consistently, and the bottom number called diastolic blood pressure measures 90 or greater.

Obesity can give rise to high blood pressure because a large body size can increase blood pressure making your heart pump harder to supply blood to all the cells in the body. Excess fat can damage the kidneys which also help to regulate blood pressure.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a condition whereby a person suffers long pauses during breathing when they sleep at night. Normal breathing resumes again usually with a choking sound or a loud snort. The pauses can occur up to 30 times within an hour which prevents an individual from getting a good night sleep.

A person suffering from sleep apnea is at risk of heart disease, stroke, depression, and high blood pressure, daytime sleepiness which can result in automobile accidents, diabetes, difficulty focusing and other ailments.

Obesity is a high-risk factor for developing sleep apnea because an overweight person is more likely to have fat stored around their neck which makes the airway smaller. A lower airway is responsible for shallow breathing and long pauses in breathing for short periods of time, difficulty in breathing and loud breathing such as snoring.

Also, fat stored around the neck and other parts of the body can produce substances that cause inflammation and inflammation around the neck is a high-risk factor for sleep apnea.


Osteoarthritis is a health condition that results in stiffness and pain in the joints. Osteoarthritis is commonly related to age or an injury and mostly affects joints of the knees, hands, hips and lower back.

Obesity is a high-risk factor for osteoarthritis because excess weight puts extra pressure on joints and cartilages making them wear out. High levels of body fat usually contain higher blood levels of substances that can lead to inflammation. Inflamed joints often lead to osteoarthritis.

Heart Disease

Heart disease is a condition that takes place when the blood vessels carrying blood to your heart become narrow and hard thus limiting the heart from receiving all the blood it requires. Another type of heart problem is the sub-optimal pumping of your heart. Heart disease leads to heart failure, heart attacks, sudden cardiac death, abnormal heart rhythm and chest pain.

Obesity leads to the development of health problems which increase the risk of heart disease. These health problems include high cholesterol, high blood sugar, and high blood pressure. Excess weight also makes your heart work harder to send blood to all the cells in the body.


A typical stroke occurs when the flow of blood to a particular part of the brain ceases and therefore causes your brain cells to die. The ischemic stroke happens when a blood clot blocks an artery carrying blood to the brain. Another type of stroke known as hemorrhagic stroke takes place when a blood vessel bursts in the brain.

Obesity increases the risk of high blood pressure, and high blood pressure is the leading cause of strokes.

Excess weight also increases the risk of developing other health complications related to strokes such as heart disease, high blood sugar, and high cholesterol.

Mortality Rate for Obesity

Mortality Rate for Obesity

Studies have shown that those with grades II and III obesity have the highest all-cause mortality rates even after controlling for age, gender, ethnicity, and education. 

The mortality rate is 20% higher and they are likely to die by 3.7 years earlier than their healthy-weight counterparts.

For cardiovascular diseases related deaths, individuals with grade II and III obesity die 10.3 years and 12.8 years earlier than healthy-weight pairs respectively.

How Many Years Does Obesity Shorten Your Lifespan?

In comparison with their healthy-weight counterparts, morbidly obese (grade III obesity) men who are 25 years or older have a reduction in life expectancy of about 22%. This translates to death 12 years earlier than the healthy-weight counterparts.

Obesity mortality rate, from the above studies, rises as the excess body weight increases. Irrespective of the cause of death, obese individuals have the tendency to die earlier than their healthy-weight counterparts.

In the United States, more white men are likely to die from obesity related diseases than their black counterparts while the reverse is the case for white women, having less obesity related deaths when compared to black women.

Across all age groups, obesity will always shorten lifespan.

Who Is Most Affected By Obesity?

  • Men are far more likely to be overweight than women, but 40.4% of all American women are obese. Conversely, obesity affects 35% of American men
  • Obesity is more prevalent among people that are between the ages of 59 and 40. In reality, over 40% of adults between the underlying age ranges have obesity. 

In conclusion, obesity is a major health problem globally. Many diseases that are associated obesity have remained the leading causes of deaths. It is therefore important to curb this menace in order to improve quality of life and prevent untimely death.

Treatments for Obesity

Treatments for Obesity

Dietary Modification

Trying out various diets also known as yo-yo dieting can have serious health risks due to significant stresses on the kidneys, hearts and other organs. This is because of the repetitious cycle of rapid weight gain and weight loss.

If you decide to go the diet route, the best approach is to work with a health care professional that will customize the right diet for you. An ideal diet is one that restricts calories while maintaining nutrition.

The perfect length of time to participate in a medically regulated weight loss program is a minimum of 6 months to 12 months. This increases your odds of success significantly.

There is no one weight loss diet that works for everybody. Choose the right one for you that incorporates healthy foods and works for you best.

The significant changes to incorporate in one’s diet to treat obesity include:

  • Cutting calories – One of the key factors to reducing weight is by cutting back on the calories consumed on a daily basis. A health care professional reviews how many calories you consume every day from your normal eating and drinking habits and then crafts a customized diet plan to reduce your calorie intake.
  • Making healthier choices – A healthier diet incorporates more plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grain carbohydrates. Lean sources of protein such as lean meats, fish, lentils, beans, and soy are perfect for your diet. Focus on low-fat dairy products and healthy sources of fat such as canola, nut oils and olive. Reduce your salt and added sugar intake.
  • Feeling full on less – The key to feeling full on less is to understand how energy density can help satisfy you with fewer calories. Every type of food has a particular number of calories in a given volume. Some foods such as processed foods, fats, desserts, and candies have a high energy density which means that a small amount of food has a significant number of calories.

Similarly, other types of food such as vegetables and fruits have a lower energy density whereby a significant portion has fewer calories. The smart thing to do therefore is to eat more large portions of foods with fewer calories to help you become full-on fewer calories. This contributes to a greater satisfaction of your meal and mindset.

  • Restricting certain foods – There are particular diets that restrict certain foods such as full-fat foods or high carbohydrates. Depending on what works for you, your health care professional will advise on which foods you can limit or eliminate to make substantial progress on your weight loss journey.
  • Meal replacements – This type of diet plan involves replacing one or two main meals with healthy snacks such meal bars or low-calorie shakes and consuming a healthy balanced third meal that is low in calories and fat.

Behavior Modification

Behavior modification therapy is all about changing your lifestyle choices such as exercise and eating habits to promote weight loss. This includes:

  • Identifying and avoiding high-risk scenarios.
  • Adopting a realistic approach to weight loss and body image.
  • Setting realistic short term and long term weight loss goals.
  • Keeping a record of diet and exercise patterns.
  • Developing a support network to help you focus on your goal. This can include family members, friends, co-workers or a support group.


Regular exercise is an essential component to long-term weight loss. Exercise and daily physical activity help to burn more calories. This is especially useful because as you reduce the number of calories consumed, your metabolism slows down and your body burns fewer calories. This is counterintuitive to weight loss. Thus incorporating exercise is more effective for weight loss.

Some strategies to incorporate include:

  • Spending less time watching television.
  • Walking, cycling, and swimming.
  • Taking the stairs instead of the lift.

Obesity Medications

There are certain prescription drugs and over-the-counter weight loss medication available for obese patients. These medicines help people to reduce their appetites and thus eat less. However, for most patients who stop taking the drug, weight gain occurs.

Weight loss drugs that are FDA-approved include:

Obesity Surgery or Bariatric Surgery

For most obese patients, bariatric surgery is the most efficient way to lose and maintain weight loss. The minimum qualifications to qualify for weight loss surgery are either:

  • Have a BMI of 30 or higher.
  • 100 pounds over your ideal weight.

Discover the leading ways for conquering obesity today:

Are You Surprised?

Will you control your eating habits in light of the data and facts showing that obesity-related illnesses are the primary causes of death? The real kicker is that -all affected persons can avoid the implications of obesity. You will improve your chances of achieving and maintaining a healthy weight by eating well and exercising frequently.

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