Although one of the national health objectives for the year 2010 is to reduce the prevalence of obesity among adults to less than 15 percent, current data indicate that the situation is worsening rather than improving, Dr. McTigue points out. During the past 20 years, obesity rates among U.S. adults have skyrocketed with 30 percent of adults 20 years of age and older over 60 million people now categorized as obese and 9 million as severely obese. Over the past 25 years, the percentage of young people who are overweight or obese has more than tripled.
The prevalence of extremely obese women in the U.S. differs among racial and ethnic groups, with Asian Americans in this study having the lowest prevalence and African-Americans having the highest. The researchers note that they found no difference in the weight-related risk for death from all causes, death due to heart disease, and new onset of heart disease across the diverse racial and ethnic groups, although, they point out that the relatively small number of women from certain racial/ethnic groups limited their ability to examine these outcomes within all groups in detail.
The investigators also examined African-American and Caucasian women more closely, finding that both groups experienced increased risks of mortality and new onset of coronary heart disease with increasing weight category. In addition, the risk for diabetes and hypertension increased as excess weight became more extreme, and even women who were overweight but not obese experienced significant weight-related health consequences.
According to Dr. McTigue, these results suggest that degree of obesity has a major impact on health risk. "When a woman and her physician are choosing treatment options for obesity, they should carefully consider the degree