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. 2013 Jun;37(6):889-91.
doi: 10.1038/ijo.2012.159.

Morbid Obesity Rates Continue to Rise Rapidly in the United States

Free PMC article

Morbid Obesity Rates Continue to Rise Rapidly in the United States

R Sturm et al. Int J Obes (Lond). .
Free PMC article


Clinically severe or morbid obesity (body mass index (BMI) >40 or 50 kg m(-2)) entails far more serious health consequences than moderate obesity for patients, and creates additional challenges for providers. The paper provides time trends for extreme weight categories (BMI >40 and >50 kg m(-2)) until 2010, using data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Between 2000 and 2010, the prevalence of a BMI >40 kg m(-2) (type III obesity), calculated from self-reported height and weight, increased by 70%, whereas the prevalence of BMI >50 kg m(-2) increased even faster. Although the BMI rates at every point in time are higher among Hispanics and Blacks, there were no significant differences in trends between them and non-Hispanic Whites. The growth rate appears to have slowed down since 2005. Adjusting for self-report biases, we estimate that in 2010 15.5 million adult Americans or 6.6% of the population had an actual BMI >40 kg m(-2). The prevalence of clinically severe obesity continues to be increasing, although less rapidly in more recent years than prior to 2005.


Figure 1
Figure 1. Prevalence growth by severity of obesity (in percent over 1986 baseline)
Notes: Author's calculation based on Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey, BMI cutpoints calculated based on self-reported height and weight. Adjusted line (squares) uses cutpoint of 37.3 for men and 37.0 for women to make it comparable to BMI>40 calculated from objective height and weight measurement. 200 indicates a 200% increase over baseline, i.e. a tripling of baseline rates.

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