Frequently Asked Questions

Get answers to a wide range of frequently asked questions about obesity, including obesity in the workplace, implementing obesity management programs, and anti-obesity medication coverage.

What is obesity?

Obesity is defined as an accumulation of fat, either an abnormal or excessive amount, that puts health at risk.1

How can I tell if I have obesity?

A person is considered to have obesity if he or she has a BMI ≥30 kg/m2.2,3

How do healthcare professionals categorize obesity severity?

Obesity severity is classified into 1 of 3 different classes3:

  • Class 1 – a person has a BMI between 30 kg/m2 and <35 kg/m2
  • Class 2 – a person has a BMI between 35 kg/m2 and <40 kg/m2
  • Class 3 – a person has a BMI of ≥40 kg/m2
How does obesity impact mental state?

Obesity is often associated with depression and people who have obesity are more likely to report depression.4,5 

Does education have any impact on obesity?

Actually, it seems as though it may. Overall, men and women with college degrees had lower obesity prevalence compared with those with no college degree.6

How is obesity measured?

Body mass index (BMI) is a common way to measure obesity. BMI is a measurement that uses a person’s height and weight to determine a weight category.2

What does obesity cost?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, a 2021 study showed that the estimated annual medical cost of obesity for adults in the United States was over $172 billion in 2019 dollars. If you further examine the medical costs for obesity, people with obesity have medical costs $1861 higher than those of normal weight.6

Population-level costs were estimated by scaling the per-person excess costs using BMI category prevalence estimates from NHANES 2011–2016 and 2019 population estimates of the civilian, noninstitutionalized population.6

Does obesity have any impact on fertility?

Having obesity or being overweight puts women at an increased risk of facing pregnancy and fertility complications. They may also take longer to conceive and are more likely to be infertile. Women who have obesity and overweight face health risks that include gestational diabetes and hypertension.7 

Who does obesity affect?

Non-Hispanic Black Americans (49.6%) had the highest age-adjusted prevalence of obesity, followed by Hispanics (44.8%), non-Hispanic whites (42.2%), and non-Hispanic Asians (17.4%).6

What is a comorbidity?

Comorbidity is defined as co-occurring health problems, diseases, or conditions in a patient.8 There are more than 200 obesity-related comorbidities, including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and coronary artery disease.9,10

How do comorbidities affect costs?

Because obesity is associated with many comorbidities, it may drive up medical and pharmacy expenditures in your organization. Obesity can also increase indirect costs stemming from absenteeism, presenteeism, disability, and workers’ compensation.11

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References: 1. Obesity. World Health Organization. Accessed May 18, 2023. 2. Defining adult overweight and obesity. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed May 18, 2023. 3. Garvey WT, Mechanick JI, Brett EM, et al; Reviewers of the AACE/ACE Obesity Clinical Practice Guidelines. American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and American College of Endocrinology comprehensive clinical practice guidelines for medical care of patients with obesity. Endocr Pract. 2016;22(suppl 3):1-203. 4. Gariepy G, Nitka D, Schmitz N. The association between obesity and anxiety disorders in the population: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Obesity. 2010;34:407-419. 5. de Wit L, Luppino A, van Straten B, Penninx B, Zitman F, Cuipers P. Depression and obesity: a meta-analysis of community-based studies. Psychiatry Res. 2010;178:230-235. 6. Ward ZJ, Bleich SN, Long MW, Gortmaker SL. Association of body mass index with health care expenditures in the United States by age and sex. PLoS One. 2021;16(3):e0247307. 7. Silvestris E, de Pergola G, Rosania R, Loverro G. Obesity as disruptor of the female fertility. Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2018;16(1):22. 8. Valderas JM, Starfield B, Sibbald B, Salisbury C, Roland M. Defining comorbidity: implications for understanding health and health services. Ann Fam Med. 2009;7:357-363. 9. What is obesity? Obesity Medicine Association. Accessed May 23, 2023. 10. Guh DP, Zhang W, Bansback N, Amarsi Z, Birmingham CL, Anis AH. The incidence of co-morbidities related to obesity and overweight: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Public Health. 2009;9:88. 11. Ramasamy A, Laliberté F, Aktavoukian SA, et al. Direct and indirect cost of obesity among the privately insured in the United States: a focus on the impact by type of industry. J Occup Environ Med. 2019;61(11):877-886.


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