DEFINITION OF OBESITY
Obesity is defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) ≥ 30 kg/m2. A normal BMI is defined as 18.5-24.9 kg/m2 and is desirable because these BMIs are associated with the longest life expectancies.
Obesity is a growing epidemic in the United States. Based on data from the 2009-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 35.7% of Americans were defined as being obese.1 Additionally in 2000, no state had an obesity prevalence of 30% or more, and as of 2010, twelve states met this criterion.2 Furthermore, obesity leads to additional health risks such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and increased risks of cancer. Based on 2008 data, medical costs in the United States associated with obesity were estimated at $147 billion, and the medical costs paid by third-party groups for each obese patient were $1,429 greater than the costs for patients of normal weight.3