How many deaths in the US are associated with obesity?

Updated: Jun 09, 2021
  • Author: Osama Hamdy, MD, PhD; Chief Editor: Romesh Khardori, MD, PhD, FACP  more...
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Overweight and obesity were associated with nearly 1 in 5 deaths (18.2%) among adults in the United States from 1986 through 2006, according to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health. [85, 86] Previous research has likely underestimated obesity’s impact on US mortality.

Obesity appeared to have a particularly strong effect among black women, with 26.8% of deaths associated with a BMI of 25 kg/m2 or higher. [85, 86] In white women, 21.7% of deaths were associated with overweight or obesity. Among black men, 5.0% of deaths were associated with overweight or obesity, and among white men, 15.6% were. Data also show the more recent the birth year, the greater effect obesity has on mortality rates. [85, 86]

The researchers used data from 19 consecutive waves of the National Health Interview Survey covering 1986 through 2004 and linked those data with mortality information in the National Death Index through 2006. [85, 86] This study is the first to account for differences in age, birth cohort, sex, and race in analyzing Americans’ risk for death from obesity.

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