Almost 5,000 doctors, nurses, nutritionists, and other industry stakeholders are coming together this week in New Orleans for the 4th Annual ObesityWeek Conference. The gathering comes at a time when Centers for Disease Control (CDC) statistics show that more than one-third (36.5 percent) of U.S. adults have obesity. And, as the chart shows, the prevalence of obesity has been rising for the last 15 years.
This trend is frightening and the impacts are real.
Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. Moreover, the CDC has estimated the annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. at $147 billion (2008 dollars).
All the work on obesity prevention to date has done nothing to reverse the upward trend.
Far too many children are also impacted by the obesity epidemic.
The statistics for children are equally stark. The CDC estimates that the prevalence of obesity affects about 12.7 million children and adolescents. That is more than the total population of Ohio, or Georgia, or North Carolina.
I became an obesity doctor because I saw overweight adults and children with serious health problems, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and diabetes. In medicine, we “control” diabetes and other health conditions – but is that really the acceptable solution for a twelve-year-old?
I wanted to do something different: to reverse this trend and prevent these diseases from starting to take away valuable years of my patients’ lives. It’s also why I wrote BOUNCE: A Weight Loss Doctor’s Plan for a Happier, Healthier and Slimmer Child, because child obesity is a serious medical condition and it’s important to understand how to identify, reduce, and avoid its causes.
As my colleagues and I gather at Obesity Week to learn from each other and share the latest research on treatment and prevention, my eyes will stay firmly on why I do this work every day – helping patients, like Brooke, and Halie, and Tate. Their health and happiness is a reminder that, while we are still failing far too many Americans, we can — working together — reverse this terrible trend.
*CDC childhood obesity statistics: https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/childhood.html
Figure 5 is from CDC National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) briefing: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db219.pdf