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Major health organizations, including the World Health Organization, National Institutes of Health, American Medical Association, National Academy of Sciences and Center for Disease Control, have classified obesity as a disease.

The true definition of obesity

Obesity affects over one-third of Americans. It is defined by being at least 100 pounds overweight, with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity is commonly associated with life-threatening health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. In addition, obesity also impacts quality of life and can commonly interfere with social and personal activities.

Obesity is an epidemic

  • CDC estimates 42.4% of U.S. adults had obesity and 9.2% had severe obesity in 2017, the highest incidence ever recorded in America *
  • In the United States, obesity among adults, children and adolescents has markedly increased regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, or educational level.*
  • In every state, more than 15% of adults are obese, and in nine states, over 30% of adults are obese.*
  • There 78 million obese adults in the United States and 14 million morbidly obese adults.*
  • 16.9% of children and adolescents aged 2-19 years are obese.*
  • Being morbidly obese at 20 years of age results in a loss in life expectancy of**:
    • 22 years for black males
    • 12 years for white males
    • 8 years for white females
    • 4 years for black females

*Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). [U.S. Obesity Trends Home Page] Atlanta, GA: Center for Disease Control and Prevention; c2011. [Updated 2011 January 26; cited 2011 January 26]. Available from: and Flegal KM, Carroll MD, Ogden CL, Curtin LR. Prevalence and trends in obesity among US adults, 1999-2008. JAMA 2010; 303:235-41.

**Fontaine et al. JAMA 289:187 January 8, 2003

Morbid obesity can be costly to your wallet

  • Morbid obesity increases your risk of diabetes, gallbladder disease, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, heart disease, and much more.
  • Morbid obesity can lead to loss of self-esteem, depression, and even discrimination from jobs, promotions and from society in general.
  • Annual medical costs associated with obesity are estimated to be as high as $190 billion.
  • Obese people have average annual medical costs that are $3,000-5,000 more than people of normal weight.
  • 45,000 morbidly obese people per year die before retirement.
  • On average, morbid obesity causes 40 million lost work days per year.

How to tell if you’re obese

The most common way to assess your weight and measure health risks related to your weight is through your Body mass index (BMI).

BMI is calculated using height and weight. At the UF Health Bariatric Surgery Center, our health care team can help calculate your BMI to estimate how much body fat you have or you can check out this BMI calculator.