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Related Conditions: Obesity

New - Promoting Healthy Families

Earn AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™
The AMA has developed a set of continuing medical education activities to help physicians help their adult patients promote healthy eating and physical activity for themselves and their children. Included are two video modules, a more detailed monograph, and patient handouts.

Obesity is a major public health problem contributing to 112,000 preventable deaths each year. The prevalence of obesity has increased dramatically in recent decades, from 13 percent of adults in 1980 to 34 percent of adults in 2008. Among children, the prevalence increased from 5 percent to 17 percent during the same time period.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the following are health consequences of obesity:

  • Coronary heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon)
  • Hypertension
  • Dyslipidemia
  • Stroke
  • Liver and gallbladder disease
  • Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Gynecological problems (abnormal menses, infertility)

Risks for these conditions increase as weight increases. Obesity also affects various racial and ethnic groups disproportionately. Further, obesity and its associated problems have a large economic impact on our health care system, with the costs in 2008 equating to $147 billion.

The current Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, MD, MBA, recently addressed this issue in her report, The Surgeon General's Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation 2010: "Today's epidemic of overweight and obesity threatens the historic progress we have made in increasing America's quality and years of healthy life."

The AMA is committed to obesity prevention and reduction through its established efforts, as well as by advancing new projects and initiatives which will provide up-to-date patient and physician resources.


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  2. Flegal KM, Carroll MD, Ogden CL, Curtin LR. Prevalence and trends in obesity among US adults, 1999-2008. JAMA. 2010 Jan 20;303(3):235-41. Epub 2010 Jan 13.
  3. Flegal KM, Carroll MD, Ogden CL, Johnson CL. Prevalence and trends in obesity among US adults, 1999-2000. JAMA. 2002 Oct 9; 288(14):1723-7.
  4. Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Curtin LR, Lamb MM, Flegal KM. Prevalence of high body mass index in US children and adolescents, 2007-2008. JAMA. 2010 Jan 20;303(3):242-9. Epub 2010 Jan 13.
  5. Ogden CL, Flegal KM, Carroll MD, Johnson CL. Prevalence and trends in overweight among US children and adolescents, 1999-2000. JAMA. 2002 Oct 9; 288(14):1728-32.
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overweight and Obesity: Health Consequences. Accessed: September 2011.
  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. U.S. Obesity Trends. Trends by State 1985-2008. Accessed: January 19, 2010
  8. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Surgeon General's call to action to prevent and decrease overweight and obesity. [Rockville, MD]: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Office of the Surgeon General; [2001]. Available from: US GPO, Washington.
  9. Finkelstein, EA, Trogdon, JG, Cohen, JW, and Dietz, W. Annual medical spending attributable to obesity: Payer- and service-specific estimates. Health Affairs. 2009; 28(5): w822-w831.