The Cost of Obesity

Obesity rates in the United States have tripled since the 1960s and doubled since the 1980s. Nearly 70 percent of Americans are overweight or obese, a national epidemic that contributes to chronic disease, disability, and death, and places a large financial strain on the health care system.

While a healthy diet and regular exercise are key to obesity prevention, the causes of obesity are varied and complex — with economic, social, and environmental factors. This means the disease is not only difficult to pin down but it’s also inequitably experienced. Black women, for example, are more likely to be obese than any other demographic group, while Asian men and women have the lowest body mass index ratings.

Below, the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University examine the scope of this health issue, including who is most affected and how much it is costing us as a nation.

Inforgraphic created by MPH@GW, the online MPH program from the George Washington University.

Factors surrounding obesity and obesity-related illnesses are complex and evolving. Increasing research regarding the fiscal impact of obesity, and the efforts to address the social determinants of health that lead to obesity, continue to shape the narrative around the work being done in the nation. The original post from the MPH@GW, the online MPH program from the George Washington University, can be viewed here.

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