TABLE 1-1 Relative Risk of Health Problems Associated with Obesity in Adultsa

Greatly Increased (relative risk > 3)

Moderately Increased (relative risk 2-3)

Slightly Increased (relative risk 1-2)

• Type 2 diabetes

• Coronary heart disease

• Cancerb

• Gallbladder disease

• Hypertension

• Reproductive hormone abnormalities

• Dyslipidemia

• Osteoarthritis

• Polycystic ovary syndrome

• Insulin resistance

• Hyperuricemia and gout

• Lower back pain

• Breathlessness


• Anesthesia complications

• Sleep apnea


• Fetal defects

a All relative risk values are approximate.

b Breast cancer in postmenopausal women, endometrial cancer, colon cancer.

SOURCE: Reprinted with permission from World Health Organization, 2000. Copyright (2000) by the World Health Organization.

process of instituting policies or programs, and for different reasons. Decision makers (i.e., those who make a decision to implement an intervention) may consider research-based evidence useful for supporting or opposing certain actions, but may also rely on a range of other information related to feasibility, political acceptability, and public support. Community programs may view research-based evidence as interesting but not entirely relevant to initiatives they may undertake in the real world. Program evaluators may share this view, emphasizing research that begins with projects of proven practicability that are shown to have promise or impact based on how things transpire. Members of the public may be frustrated with new evidence that appears daily and is often discordant with evidence from the day before. Additionally, making decisions about prevention is inherently complex, especially for problems, such as obesity, with multiple types and layers of causation. Moreover, prevention (keeping something

TABLE 1-2 Physical, Social, and Emotional Health Consequences of Obesity in Adults, Children, and Youth

Physical Health

Social Health

Emotional Health

• Cardiovascular disease

• Stigma

• Low self-esteem

• Cancer

• Negative stereotyping

• Negative body image

• Glucose intolerance and insulin resistance

• Discrimination

• Depression

• Type 2 diabetes

• Teasing and bullying


• Hypertension

• Social marginalization


• Dyslipidemia



• Hepatic steatosis



• Cholelithiasis



• Sleep apnea



• Menstrual abnormalities



• Impaired balance



• Orthopedic problems



SOURCES: IOM, 2005; WHO, 2000.

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