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Current and Future Prevalence of Obesity and Severe Obesity in the United States

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  • Christopher J. Ruhm

Abstract

The prevalence of obesity has increased rapidly since the mid-1970s, following a period of relative stability. This study examines past patterns and projects future prevalence rates of obesity and severe obesity among US adults through 2020. Trends in body mass index (BMI), overweight (BMI 25), obesity (BMI 30), class 2 obesity (BMI 35), class 3 obesity (BMI 40) and class 4 obesity (BMI 45) of 20-74 year olds are obtained using data from the first National Health Examination Survey and the Nutrition Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. Quantile regression methods are then used to forecast future prevalence rates through 2020. By that year, 77.6% of men are predicted to be overweight and 40.2% obese, with class 2, 3 and 4 obesity prevalence rates projected at 16.4%, 6.3% and 3.1%. The corresponding forecasts for women are 71.1%, 43.3%, 25.3%, 12.8% and 5.8%. The large growth predicted for severe obesity represents a major public health challenge, given the accompanying high medical expenditures and elevated risk of mortality and morbidity. Combating severe obesity is likely to require strategies targeting the particularly large weight gains of the heaviest individuals.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13181.

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Date of creation: Jun 2007
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Publication status: published as Christopher Ruhm, 2007. "Current and Future Prevalence of Obesity and Severe Obesity in the United States," Forum for Health Economics & Policy, Berkeley Electronic Press, vol. 10(2), pages 1086-1086.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13181

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Cited by:
  1. Joan Costa-Font & Daniele Fabbri & Joan Gil, 2008. "Decomposing Body Mass Index Gaps Between Mediterranean Countries: A Counterfactual Quantile Regression Analysis," Working Papers 2008-11, FEDEA.
  2. Alston, Julian M. & Sumner, Daniel A. & Vosti, Stephen A., 2008. "Farm subsidies and obesity in the United States: National evidence and international comparisons," Food Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 33(6), pages 470-479, December.
  3. Charles L. Baum II & Christopher J. Ruhm, 2007. "Age, Socioeconomic Status and Obesity Growth," NBER Working Papers 13289, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Brunello, Giorgio & Michaud, Pierre-Carl & Sanz-de-Galdeano, Anna, 2008. "The Rise in Obesity across the Atlantic: An Economic Perspective," IZA Discussion Papers 3529, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Michael Lechner, 2008. "Long-Run Labour Market Effects of Individual Sports Activities," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 114, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  6. Rooth, Dan-Olof, 2011. "Work out or out of work -- The labor market return to physical fitness and leisure sports activities," Labour Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 399-409, June.
  7. Ruhm, Christopher J., 2012. "Understanding overeating and obesity," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 781-796.
  8. Michaud, Pierre-Carl & Goldman, Dana P. & Lakdawalla, Darius N. & Zheng, Yuhui & Gailey, Adam H., 2012. "The value of medical and pharmaceutical interventions for reducing obesity," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 630-643.
  9. Joan Costa-Font & Daniele Fabbri & Joan Gil, 2008. "Decomposing Cross-Country Gaps in Obesity and Overweight: Does the Social Environment Matter?," Working Papers in Economics, Universitat de Barcelona. Espai de Recerca en Economia 205, Universitat de Barcelona. Espai de Recerca en Economia.
  10. Kolosnitsyna, Marina & Berdnikova, Arina, 2009. "Overweight: What Are its Costs and What Could Be Done?," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 15(3), pages 72-93.
  11. Etile, Fabrice, 2014. "Education policies and health inequalities: Evidence from changes in the distribution of Body Mass Index in France, 1981–2003," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 13(C), pages 46-65.
  12. Samuel H. Preston & Andrew Stokes & Neil K. Mehta & Bochen Cao, 2012. "Projecting the Effect of Changes in Smoking and Obesity on Future Life Expectancy in the United States," NBER Working Papers 18407, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Samuel Preston & Andrew Stokes & Neil Mehta & Bochen Cao, 2014. "Projecting the Effect of Changes in Smoking and Obesity on Future Life Expectancy in the United States," Demography, Springer, Springer, vol. 51(1), pages 27-49, February.

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