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Obesity & Health

The Obesity Epidemic

Obesity is a life-threatening disease currently affecting a quarter of the United States population. The prevalence of obesity has risen by more than 60 percent in the past decade, with South Carolina having among the highest obesity levels in the country for children and adults.

Individuals age 18 and older with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or more or a BMI of 35 with other health problems are considered at risk for disability and premature death because of being overweight or obese.

Obesity-Related Health Conditions

Often obesity leads to a number of physical ailments and diseases. Obesity-related health conditions (co-morbidities) are health risks that, whether alone or in combination, can significantly reduce your life expectancy. Below are some of the most common obesity-related health conditions. 

  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • High blood pressure/Heart disease
  • Osteoarthritis of weight-bearing joints
  • Sleep apnea/Respiratory problems
  • Gastroesophageal reflux/Heartburn
  • Depression
  • Infertility

The Toll of Obesity

  • Obesity contributes to more than 300,000 deaths annually in the United States, second only to cigarette smoking.
  • Studies have shown that obesity - linked to diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, stroke and certain cancers - raise a person's healthcare costs by 36 percent and medication costs by 77 percent.
  • Adults with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or more or a BMI of 35 with other health problems are considered at risk for disability and premature death because of their weight.

The Causes of Obesity

The causes of obesity are multiple and complex, and not simply a result of overeating or lack of willpower. Research has shown that in many cases a significant, underlying cause of severe obesity is genetic.

Studies have demonstrated that once the problem is established, dieting and exercise programs have a limited ability to provide effective long-term relief. As scientists continue to study the causes of obesity, individuals must decide how to treat their condition most effectively.