Obesity in America

Raul J. Rosenthal, John Morton, Stacy Brethauer, Samer Mattar, Eric De Maria, Jennifer K. Benz, Jennifer Titus, David Sterrett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Background The prevalence of obesity in America continues to grow significantly. Awareness and understanding of the disease of obesity and treatment options for it appear to be lacking among the general US population. Objective This study aimed to identify misperceptions in diagnosis and treatment of obesity, struggles Americans face in obtaining treatment, consequences of obesity, and perceived barriers to weight loss. Setting University hospital, United States. Methods A survey of 1509 adults was completed in September 2016 using AmeriSpeak, a probability-based panel designed to be representative of the US household population. The survey included oversamples of blacks and Hispanics. The study analyzed quantitative data from structured interviews and presents descriptive statistics related to public attitudes toward obesity. Results Of Americans, 81% consider obesity to be the most serious health problem facing the nation, tying cancer as the top issue and landing ahead of diabetes (72%), heart disease (72%), mental illness (65%), and HIV infection and AIDS (46%). Nearly all Americans (94%) agree that obesity itself, even when no other diseases are present, increases the risk for early death. Most Americans overestimate the effectiveness of some obesity treatments, such as diet and exercise alone. Many overweight and obese Americans do not consult a doctor at all about their issues of excess weight. Conclusions There is increased awareness about the serious consequences of obesity, but there is still a lack of understanding about the reasons and best treatment modalities for the disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1643-1650
Number of pages8
JournalSurgery for Obesity and Related Diseases
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2017


  • Bariatric surgery
  • Co-morbidities
  • Cost
  • Obesity
  • Survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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