If we don’t somehow stem the tide of childhood obesity, we’re going to have a huge problem.”

Lance Armstrong, Athlete

29 Scary Obesity Facts and Stats Everyone should know

Obesity can be defined as a state where people have accumulated excessive body fat, which in turn can translate into several kinds of diseases.

Obesity is a serious issue, especially in the rich Western world.

In this article, all facts you need to know about obesity are examined.

General Facts and Stats regarding Obesity

  • People who have a body mass index (BMI) of over 30 are considered to be obese. However, a BMI of over 25 already implies overweight. Thus, don’t take it too relaxed if your BMI is over 25 but under 30, since you are already at higher risk for many serious health issues.
  • There are different classes of obesity. While class one is the least problematic with a BMI between 30 and 35, class three is the most problematic with a BMI of 40 or higher. Class two obesity covers the middle range between 35 and 40. However, don’t be fooled. Even class one obesity can lead to serious health issues.
  • Obesity also often implies excessive levels of body fat. While the normal range for body fat is between 8% and 19% for men and 21% and 33% for women, levels above these ranges should indicate that you likely suffer from obesity or at least from serious overweight.
  • The WHO has set up a global action plan in order to fight Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including obesity, and wants to make significant progress until 2025.
  • Although some people suffer from obesity due to chronic diseases, most of the causes of obesity are preventable. In fact, the main cause of obesity is overeating in combination with a lack of exercising.
  • Obesity occurs due to the fact that people consume more calories than they burn on average.
  • Overweight and obesity can be effectively fought by educating the general public about the serious health issues related to overweight and to educate them on how obesity can be treated and prevented.
  • It is also crucial to educate our children already in school so that we can prevent the development of overweight and obesity at a young age, which will also reduce the obesity problem once those children grow up.
  • The risk of serious physical health conditions increases with obesity. Scientists estimate that obesity can be responsible for a variety of diseases, including heart attacks, strokes and diabetes.

Facts and Stats concerning Obesity on a Global Scale

  • According to the WHO, as at 2016, around 13% of all people are obese on a global scale. This amounts to around 650 million people.
  • However, even 2 billion people currently suffer from overweight. Thus, around 39% of all people worldwide suffer from overweight, while 13% suffered from obesity.
  • According to the WHO, obesity almost tripled from 1975 to 2016.
  • Most of the worldwide population lives in regions where overweight kills more people than underweight.
  • Even under the age of 5, around 41 million people suffered from overweight or obesity.
  • Even in a rather poor continent like Africa, the number of children under the age of 5 who are obese increased by almost 50% since 2000.
  • Around 340 million children and adolescents in the age between 5 and 19 suffered from obesity or overweight.
  • Almost half of all overweight or obese children worldwide live in Asia. However, this is quite intuitive since Asia also has by far the most inhabitants compared to other continents like America or Europe.
  • Obesity is often negatively correlated with the level of education, meaning that people with higher education often suffer less from obesity compared to people with low levels of education.

Stats and Facts regarding Obesity in the United States

  • People who suffer from obesity are sick more often compared to people with normal weight and therefore will also miss significantly more workdays. According to the center for disease control and prevention, obese people will miss around 56% more workdays compared to people with normal weight.
  • According to the CDC, around 36% of all adults in the United States suffer from obesity. However, also 32% suffer from overweight, meaning that more than two-thirds of all people in the U.S. suffer from either overweight or obesity and only one third has normal or underweight.
  • For children, the problem is less severe. However, also 17% of all children in the U.S. suffer from obesity.
  • Overweight children are also more likely to become obese when they turn into grownups since they often adapt their childhood characteristics into adulthood. Thus, fighting child overweight is crucial in order to mitigate the whole obesity issue.
  • Ethnicity also matters when it comes to the obesity issue. Studies have shown that Non-Hispanic Blacks show the highest percentage of all races with an obesity rate of more than 48%. This implies that almost half of all Non-Hispanic black people suffer from obesity. After them, Hispanics with 42.6% and Non-Hispanic Whites with 36.4% follow. With only 12.6%, Hispanic Asians have a relatively low obesity rate.
  • Obesity causes huge financial public costs for our society. It is estimated that the additional costs from obese alone amount to almost 1,500 USD per year per obese person. Taking all obese persons in the U.S. into account, this sums up to total additional health costs of around 150 billion USD a year.
  • According to the WHO, obesity is one of the top five causes of fatalities worldwide. Thus, more people die from overweight than from underweight on a global scale.
  • The chances to become obese are highest in middle age from 40-59. This may be due to the fact that people at this age often work in an office job for quite long hours and do not have enough time or motivation to work out. According to the CDC, more than 40% of all middle-aged people in the U.S. suffer from obesity.
  • While more men (38.7%) suffer from overweight than women (26.5%), more women (40.4%) suffer from obesity than men (35%).
  • Obesity is a quite recent phenomenon. According to the CDC, while no state in the U.S. had an obesity rate over 15% a few decades ago, nowadays, every state has an obesity rate of over 20%. This is due to the fact that groceries have become quite cheap due to mass production and also due to the fact that many people work in office jobs where they only sit around all day long and do not perform physically demanding work.
  • According to the CDC, West Virginia has the highest obesity rate with around 35% of all states in the U.S., while Colorado has the lowest obesity rate with 22.3%.







About the author

My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people of all ages about our environmental problems and how everyone can make a contribution to mitigate these issues.

As I went to university and got my Master’s degree in Economics, I did plenty of research in the field of Development Economics.

After finishing university, I traveled around the world. From this time on, I wanted to make a contribution to ensure a livable future for the next generations in every part of our beautiful planet.

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