The Obesity Epidemic: Scope of the Problem and Management Strategies


  • Barbara W. Graves CNM, MN, MPH

    Corresponding authorSearch for more papers by this author
    • Barbara W. Graves, CNM, MN, MPH, FACNM, is the Director of the Baystate Medical Center Midwifery Education Program in Springfield, MA.

Address correspondence to Barbara W. Graves, CNM, MN, MPH, FACNM, Midwifery Education Program, Baystate Medical Center, 759 Chestnut St., Springfield, MA


As the obesity epidemic increases, primary care clinicians are encountering obesity and health problems associated with obesity more frequently than ever before. In 2007, 41% of women were classified as obese, with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. Non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics are more likely to be obese than white, non-Hispanics. A wide spectrum of health problems has been associated with obesity, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, osteoarthritis, and polycystic ovary syndrome. Obesity has been shown to be a low-grade inflammatory state, which may be responsible for many of the comorbidities. The general consensus recommends screening for obesity and counseling to promote weight loss. In some cases, pharmacotherapy and or bariatric surgery may be recommended.