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Obesity Linked to Chronic Diseases

Obesity is linked to many chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, asthma, arthritis and certain cancers

Obesity is linked to many chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, asthma, arthritis and certain cancers. Sixty percent of the nation’s obese population reported one or more of these conditions in 2006, compared to 33 percent of normal-weight adults.53


Type 2 diabetes is the chronic disease most commonly associated with obesity. Studies indicate that 27 percent of all cases of type 2 diabetes can be attributed to a weight gain of 11 or more pounds after the age of 18.

In 2003, about 2 percent of normal-weight U.S. men and women had type 2 diabetes. By contrast, nearly 5 percent of overweight men and 10 percent of obese men had the disease, as did 7 percent of both overweight and obese women (Exhibit 10).

Exhibit 10

Texas Diabetes Prevalence by Weight Status, 1997-2007

refer to details

Note: Includes Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
Source: Texas Department of State Health Services.

Details for Texas Diabetes Prevalence

Cardiovascular Disease

Obesity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD). According to the American Heart Association, more than one in every three American adults has one or more types of CVD. High blood pressure is the most common CVD (74.5 million Americans), but a significant number of adults also suffer from coronary heart disease (17.6 million), heart failure (5.8 million) and stroke (6.4 million).

The excess fat associated with obesity, particularly around the waist, raises cholesterol and triglyceride levels, lowers desirable high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and raises blood pressure. The American Heart Association estimates the total direct and indirect costs of CVD in the U.S. at $503.2 billion in 2010.54


In the past decade, many scientists have accepted a link between obesity and some types of cancer, including cancers of the colon, breast, kidney, esophagus, gallbladder, pancreas and the ovaries and the endometrial lining of the uterus.

A 2003 study by researchers at the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society attempted to rank the states by incidence of cancers associated with excess weight and found that Texas was in the top 10 for prostate cancer and colon cancer in men and in the top 10 for colon cancer for both genders, and in the top half for kidney cancer, post-menopausal breast cancer and endometrial cancer in women.55

The Milken Institute estimated Texas’ annual treatment costs for cancer at nearly $3.4 billion in 2003.56

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