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Frequently Asked Questions

Get answers to a wide range of frequently asked questions about obesity, including workplace obesity, 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 classes

  • 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 an indicator 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 2008 study showed that the estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the United States was $147 billion dollars. If you further examine the medical costs for obesity, people with obesity have medical costs $1429 higher than those of normal weight.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 at least 60 obesity-related comorbidities,9 including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and coronary artery disease.10

How do comorbidities affect costs?

Because obesity is associated with many comorbidities, it may drive up direct costs such as 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 website. https://www.who.int/health-topics/obesity#tab=tab_1. Accessed January 6, 2021. 2. Defining adult overweight and obesity. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/adult/defining.html. Accessed December 27, 2020. 3. Assessing your patient’s weight and body composition. UCLA Nutrition Education website. https://apps.medsch.ucla.edu/nutrition/weightassess.htm. Accessed January 6, 2021. 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. Adult obesity facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html. Accessed January 5, 2021. 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. Bays HE, McCarthy W, et al. Obesity algorithm 2020. Presented by the Obesity Medicine Association. https://obesitymedicine.org/obesity algorithm. Accessed December 14, 2020. 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 metaanalysis. 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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