How much energy is locked in the USA? Alternative metrics for characterising the magnitude of overweight and obesity derived from BRFSS 2010 data

Int J Public Health. 2014 Jun;59(3):503-7. doi: 10.1007/s00038-013-0510-1. Epub 2013 Sep 18.


Objectives: Four metrics to characterise population overweight are described.

Methods: Behavioural Risk Factors Surveillance System data were used to estimate the weight the US population needed to lose to achieve a BMI < 25. The metrics for population level overweight were total weight, total volume, total energy, and energy value.

Results: About 144 million people in the US need to lose 2.4 million metric tonnes. The volume of fat is 2.6 billion litres-1,038 Olympic size swimming pools. The energy in the fat would power 90,000 households for a year and is worth around 162 million dollars.

Conclusions: Four confronting ways of talking about a national overweight and obesity are described. The value of the metrics remains to be tested.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System
  • Body Mass Index
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Overweight / epidemiology*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult