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01-09-2016 | Obesity | Book chapter | Article

2. Epidemiology of Obesity in the United States

Authors: Kristina H. Lewis, Sanjay Basu

Publisher: Springer International Publishing


The prevalence of obesity has risen dramatically in the United States over the past several decades, leading to a public health crisis that disproportionately impacts racial/ethnic minorities and Americans of lower socioeconomic status. This chapter examines the historical trends in obesity, as well as the scientific evidence for specific behavioral and environmental correlates of this disease. The chapter also focuses on subpopulations impacted by obesity, including children. The idea of moving beyond body mass index (BMI) as an isolated measure of obesity is presented, along with evidence of the importance of other measures, such as waist circumference, particularly among certain ethnic groups. The obesity paradox – a finding that in observational data, some adults who are overweight or obese have lower mortality than their normal-weight counterparts – is reviewed as well. Finally, the chapter considers the implications of the obesity epidemic in an aging US population and the rising prevalence of more severe degrees of obesity in recent years.

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