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During the past 20 years, obesity among adults has risen significantly in the United States. The latest data from the National Center for Health Statistics show that a third of U.S. adults 20 years of age and older—over 100 million people—are obese. This increase is not limited to adults, but has also affected young people. Among youth, 18 percent of children aged 6-11 years and 21 percent of teens aged 12–19 years are considered obese. These rates of obesity have substantial implications for Americans’ health. Being obese increases the risk of many diseases and health conditions, including: 1) High blood pressure (hypertension); 2) High cholesterol (dyslipidemia); 3) Type 2 diabetes; 4) Coronary heart disease (heart attack); 4) Stroke; 5) Gallbladder disease; 6) Arthritis; 7) Sleep apnea; and 8) Some cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon).
Although one of the national health objectives for the year 2020 is to reduce the prevalence of obesity among adults by 10 percent, current data indicate that the situation is not improving. Hopkins GIM faculty members are investigating obesity across the full range of its natural history and complications, as well as working to combat the epidemic by researching various strategies and interventions