Incidence and Prevalence of Morbid Obesity

Morbid obesity is associated with a substantially increased risk of morbidity and mortality from chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, and it has been linked to multidimensional impairments in health-related quality of life and psychosocial well-being. The prevalence of morbid obesity, also known as class III or extreme obesity (body mass index (BMI) 40 kg/m2), is rising twice as fast as the prevalence of obesity (BMI 30 kg/m2) in the US. Researchers estimate that at least 5% of the total population, or about 15,350,000 people, are morbidly obese, i.e. these individuals have a BMI > 40 kg/m2. Between 1986 and 2000, the prevalence of severe obesity (BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2) quadrupled from one in two hundred Americans to one in fifty. Extreme obesity (BMI ≥ 50 kg/m2) in adults increased by a factor of five, from one in two thousand to one in four hundred.

From 2000 to 2005, the prevalence of obesity (BMI > 30) increased by 24%. However, the prevalence of a BMI> 40, which equates to about 100 pounds overweight, increased by 50% and the prevalence of a BMI> 50 increased by 75%, two and three times faster, respectively. The heaviest BMI groups have been increasing at the fastest rates for 20 years. In addition, the prevalence of clinically severe obesity is increasing at a much faster rate among adults in the USA than is the prevalence of moderate obesity. This is consistent with the public health idea that the population weight distribution is shifting.

At this time, gastric bypass is the only known effective treatment for morbid obesity, but investment and research into pharmaceutical options remains active, despite the regulatory challenges, and device options are gaining expanded indications.


For comprehensive global market analysis of the products, technologies and companies in the clinical management of obesity, see "Products, Technologies and Markets Worldwide for the Clinical Management of Obesity, 2011-2019", report #S835.

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