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As you look at these maps, you should know that . . .

  • Over 60% of the American population is overweight.
  • More than 20% are obese.
  • Obesity significantly increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, stroke, gall stones, diverticulosis and diabetes.
  • 300,000 deaths are occurring annually due to the obesity epidemic.
  • Obesity is the leading cause of rising health care costs.
  • Obesity can shorten lives in age range 20 - 30 by as much as 13 years in severely obese white men, and by about 8 years in severely obese white women. In African-Americans comparable figures are 20 years of life lost in men and 4 years of life lost in women. Severe obesity means a BMI greater than 45. (An explanation of BMI can be found in our health Library)

If you would like to know more, read a summary of the Surgeon-General's Report on Obesity and America's weight problems.

World Health Report, 2002: Reducing Risks, Promoting Healthy Life (World Health Organization, Adobe PDF format)

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