Obesity in America is a growing concern within the last several decades. With over 40% of the American population considered obese, bariatric surgeons and medical specialists are beginning to treat this condition as a disease and an epidemic that must be dealt with.
Obesity is a significant driver of healthcare costs and can negatively impact a patient's overall quality of life. Studies show obesity can reduce a patient's life expectancy up to 10 years and significantly increases the risk for many leading causes of death, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some cancers.
Prevalence of Obesity in America
Obesity is classified by body mass index, which is a calculation of weight divided by height. A BMI of 25 to 30 is considered overweight, 30 to 35 is obese, and 35+ is considered morbidly obese.
Nearly 43% of adults in America are considered overweight or obese, while about 20% of children suffer from this disease. The most significant prevalence of obesity is in black adults, with 49.6% considered obese, followed by Hispanic adults at a 44.8% obesity rate. White adults have a 42.2% prevalence of obesity, and Asian adults have a 17.4% obesity rate.
In general, obesity is more likely to impact lower socioeconomic groups, most likely resulting from a lack of access to healthy foods and resources that can help them live healthier lives.
When looking at a map of obesity in America, every state has an obesity rate greater than 20%. The most significantly impacted state is Mississippi, with an obesity rate of 40.8%. Yet, according to the America Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, Mississippi ranks 45th in the number of bariatric procedures performed per capita.
"Bariatric surgery remains one of the most underutilized treatments in America. There is great variability in its application because of barriers to access including insurance coverage, economic conditions, and other factors," quotes Dr. Wayne J. English, FACS.
There is a great need for bariatric coverage in all 50 states so that a patient's education and treatment are not limited by where they live.
Impact of Obesity on Health
Obesity is the gateway to all kinds of medical conditions. It is linked to over 60 chronic diseases and puts a patient at risk of developing serious medical conditions, a lower quality of life, and premature death.
Unfortunately, the longer an individual suffers from obesity, the more significant impact these conditions will have on their health. Childhood obesity is proven to significantly impact physical and psychological health.
Children living with obesity are likely to suffer more serious consequences in the long term if their weight is not addressed. Similarly, children who suffer from obesity are more likely to stay obese throughout their adult life, increasing their chances of suffering from serious conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and even death.
Treating obesity can add more than ten years to your life expectancy and reduce or cure all of the weight-related medical conditions. It is necessary to recognize obesity as a chronic disease and understand its impact on your body.
Causes of Obesity in America
The mechanisms that impact a person’s weight and the overall rate of obesity in America are not linked to one particular cause. Several factors influence the development of obesity, including hormonal, psychological, environmental, and lifestyle.
There is evidence that the rate of obesity in America is a direct result of our food sources (convenience of fast food restaurants), an increase in portion sizes, and a steady decline in mobility, with many people leading sedentary lives.
A common misconception is that if obese individuals ate less and exercised more, they would not have any weight concerns. However, this is not always accurate. Metabolic research has revealed that, ultimately, weight is influenced by a complex array of hormones.
Unfortunately, many obese individuals have reset their metabolic set-point to be higher than it needs to be, making it harder to lose weight through traditional diet and exercise.
Bariatric Surgery will create a metabolic shift in your body to decrease your resting weight, or how much weight your brains think you should be carrying around. Surgeons and researchers have thoroughly studied this phenomenon and how bariatric surgery creates a physiologic shift in how much fat your brain thinks you should have.
Obesity In America
The continued rise of obesity in America is a concern for many healthcare providers who are beginning to recognize this disease as a chronic condition. Obesity is not just the result of a disordered relationship with food but involves an array of reasons, including socioeconomic factors and access to modern healthcare.
That is why we at Bariatric Centers of America are on a mission to expand access to education and care for overweight and obese patients. We want to cure the disease of obesity in communities across the country. Learn more about our mission and how you can partner with us by visiting our website.