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Unformatted text preview: A mericans are getting fatter. One in five Americans is obese; three in five are either overweight or obese. The obesity rate has accelerated dramatically in the past 20 years, in conjunction with a national trend toward sedentary lifestyles. Obesity is widely recognized as a health risk. The negative effects of obesity and other known health risks, such as smok- ing, heavy drinking, and poverty, have been well documented. But until now, no one has compared them. Is one problem worse than another? Or are they all equally risky? Two RAND researchers, health economist Roland Sturm and psychiatrist Kenneth Wells, examined the comparative effects of obesity, smoking, heavy drinking, and poverty on chronic health conditions and health expenditures. Their find- ing: Obesity is the most serious problem . It is linked to a big increase in chronic health conditions and significantly higher health expenditures. And it affects more people than smoking, heavy drinking, or poverty. Although obesity is a recognized health risk, there have been relatively few public policies designed to reduce its preva- lence. Drs. Sturm and Wells note that “Americans haven’t given obesity the same attention as other risks, like smoking, but it is clearly a top health problem and one that is on the rise in all segments of the population. More effective clinical and public health approaches are urgently needed.” Research Highlights R H e a l t h The Health Risks of Obesity Worse Than Smoking, Drinking, or Poverty This Highlight summarizes RAND research reported in the following publications: Sturm R. The Effects of Obesity, Smoking, and Problem Drinking on Chronic Medical Problems and Health Care Costs. Health Affairs . 2002;21(2):245–253. Sturm R, Wells KB. Does Obesity Contribute As Much to Morbidity As Poverty or Smoking? Public Health . 2001;115:229–295. How Is Obesity Measured? The body-mass index (BMI) is commonly used to measure obesity. This method may misclassify a few individuals, but it yields reasonably good results overall. BMI is the individual’s weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared. The standard categories are: underweight (BMI less than 18.5), normal (18.5 to 24.9), overweight (25 to 29.9), and obese (30 or more). Here are some examples, stated normal (18....
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2011 for the course HLTH 310 taught by Professor Staff during the Winter '08 term at BYU.
- Winter '08