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).
Texas Diabetes Prevalence by Weight Status, 1997-2007
Note: Includes Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
Source: Texas Department of State Health Services.
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
- 53 Marie N. Stagnitti, “Trends in Health Care Expenditures by Body Mass Index (BMI) Category for Adults in the U.S. Civilian Noninstitutionalized Population, 2001 and 2006,” Statistical Brief #247 (July 2009), pp. 1 and 7 (Last visited January 6, 2011.)
- 54 American Heart Association, Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics: 2010 Update at a Glance (Dallas, Texas, 2010), pp. 2, 6-8, 12, 25-27 and 33 (Last visited January 6, 2011.)
- 55 National Cancer Institute, “Obesity and Cancer: Questions and Answers,” World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute for Cancer Research, Policy and Action for Cancer Prevention, Food, Nutrition and Physical Activity: A Global Perspective (Washington, D.C., 2009), pp. 16-18; Shine Chang, Louise C. Masse, Richard P. Moser, Kevin W. Dodd, Facundo Arganaraz, Bernard F. Fuemmler and Ahmedin Jemel, “State Ranks of Incident Cancer Burden due to Overweight and Obesity in the United States, 2003,” Obesity (July 2008), pp. 1636-1650; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Clinical Guidelines on the Identification, Evaluation and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults: The Evidence Report (Bethesda, Maryland, September 1998), p. 12, Texas Department of State Health Services, “Expected New Cancer Cases and Deaths by Primary Site, Texas, 2010,” (Last visited January 7, 2011.)
- 56 Milken Institute, An Unhealthy America: The Economic Burden of Chronic Disease-Charting a New Course to Save Lives and Increase Productivity and Economic Growth, by Ross DeVol and Armen Bedroussian (Santa Monica, California, October 2007), p. 229.