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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Harvard: Researchers – Close to Half of U.S. Adults Projected to Have Obesity by 2030

About half of the adult U.S. population will have obesity and about a quarter will have severe obesity by 2030, according to a new study led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The study also predicts that in 29 states, more than half of the population will have obesity, and all states will have a prevalence of obesity higher than 35 percent. The study’s researchers estimate that, currently, 40 percent of American adults have obesity and 18 percent have severe obesity.

The study was published in the December 19, 2019 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The researchers said the predictions are troubling because the health and economic effects of obesity and severe obesity take a toll on several aspects of society. “Obesity, and especially severe obesity, are associated with increased rates of chronic disease and medical spending, and have negative consequences for life expectancy,” said Dr. Steven Gortmaker, professor of the practice of health sociology at Harvard Chan School and senior author of the study.

“The high projected prevalence of severe obesity among low-income adults has substantial implications for future Medicaid costs,” said lead author Dr. Zachary Ward, programmer/analyst at Harvard Chan School’s Center for Health Decision Science. “In addition, the effect of weight stigma could have far-reaching implications for socioeconomic disparities as severe obesity becomes the most common BMI category among low-income adults in nearly every state.”

“Prevention is going to be key to better managing this epidemic,” said Dr. Ward.

Watch a video of Dr. Ward highlighting the results.

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