Harvard Men's Health Watch

Obesity in America: What's driving the epidemic?

Obesity is a complex problem that scientists are still struggling to understand. In some cases, genetics seem responsible; in others, various combinations of hormonal, metabolic, and behavioral factors appear to play a role. The prevalence of obesity in the U.S. has increased by over 50%, so that two of every three American adults are now overweight or obese. Even worse, the obesity epidemic is rapidly spreading to our children. Diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease are consequences of obesity, as well as cancer, arthritis, and depression to kidney stones, fatty liver disease, and erectile dysfunction. Obesity and overweight account for nearly one of every 10 American deaths, and costs society $223 billion a year. In order to control the obesity epidemic, we must first understand its causes. Changes in the nature of work, leisure time activity, and changes in what and how much we eat are the most significant contributing factors to the explosion of obesity in America.
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