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.