The Coming Epidemic of Obesity in Elderly Americans

Authors

  • David E. Arterburn MD, MPH,

    1. From the *Section of Outcomes Research, Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Cincinnati Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and Institute for Health Policy and Health Services Research, University of Cincinnatti, Cincinnatti, OhioPharmaceutical Outcomes Research and Policy Program, School of Pharmacy, and §Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Paul K. Crane MD, MPH,

    1. From the *Section of Outcomes Research, Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Cincinnati Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and Institute for Health Policy and Health Services Research, University of Cincinnatti, Cincinnatti, OhioPharmaceutical Outcomes Research and Policy Program, School of Pharmacy, and §Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Sean D. Sullivan PhD

    1. From the *Section of Outcomes Research, Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Cincinnati Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and Institute for Health Policy and Health Services Research, University of Cincinnatti, Cincinnatti, OhioPharmaceutical Outcomes Research and Policy Program, School of Pharmacy, and §Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.
    Search for more papers by this author

  • The research reported here was supported by Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration, Health Services Research and Development Service Grants SDR 96–002 and IIR 99–3761 and was presented at the Society of General Internal Medicine Annual Meeting, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, May 2, 2003. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

David E. Arterburn, MD, MPH, Health Services Research and Development, Cincinnati Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Institute for Health Policy and Health Services Research, University of Cincinnati, PO Box 670840, Cincinnati, OH 45267. E-mail: David.Arterburn@uc.edu

Abstract

Objectives: To estimate the prevalence of obesity in elderly Americans in 2010 and to discuss the health and economic implications of these estimates.

Design: Three methods of generating future point-prevalence estimates using data from consecutive cross-sectional studies.

Setting: All regions of the United States.

Participants: Estimates were based on five nationally representative surveys of the adult population of the United States, conducted from 1960 to 2000, and population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Measurements: Changes in obesity (body mass index (BMI) ≥30 kg/m2) and normal weight (BMI <25 kg/m2) prevalence for men and women by 10-year U.S. birth cohorts were examined. The prevalence of obesity and normal weight in the elderly in 2010 was estimated under three different scenarios of obesity prevalence change.

Results: It was estimated that the prevalence of obesity in adults aged 60 and older will increase from 32.0% in 2000 to 37.4% in 2010 (range 33.6–39.6%). The number of obese adults aged 60 and older will increase from 14.6 to 20.9 million (range 18.8–22.2 million). Similarly, it was estimated that the prevalence of normal weight among adults aged 60 and older will decrease from 30.6% in 2000 to 26.7% in 2010 (range 31.0–24.7%).

Conclusion: The prevalence of obesity in elderly Americans will likely continue to increase, challenging healthcare delivery and financing systems in the United States.

Ancillary