Americans are increasingly becoming overweight. However, whether this trend applies to clinically severe obesity is unclear.
Severe obesity has a serious impact on health.
|"Accommodating severely obese patients will no longer be a rare event".|
|Archives of Internal Medicine|
In this study, Dr Roland Sturm, from the RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, California, estimated trends for extreme weight categories between 1986 and 2000.
Dr Sturm evaluated data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.
He assessed weight categories according to body mass index (BMI) based on self-reported weight and height.
Dr Sturm found that, during the study period, the prevalence of a BMI of 40 or greater quadrupled from approximately 1 in 200 adults to 1 in 50. Furthermore, the prevalence of a BMI of 50 or greater increased by a factor of 5, from about 1 in 2000 to 1 in 400.
In comparison, he determined that obesity (based on a BMI of 30 or greater) doubled during the same period, from about 1 in 10 to 1 in 5.
Dr Sturm concluded, "The prevalence of clinically severe obesity is increasing much faster than obesity".
"The widely published trends for overweight/obesity underestimate the consequences for physician practices, hospitals, and health plans because comorbidities and resulting service use are much higher among severely obese individuals".
"Accommodating severely obese patients will no longer be a rare event, and providers have to prepare to treat such patients on a regular basis".