Sixty-five percent of American adults are recommended for behavioral weight loss treatment, according to a new study presented at Obesity Week 2014, the annual meeting of The Obesity Society. Researchers used data from the 2007–2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to estimate the proportion of adults in the United States for whom weight loss treatment was recommended, based on the new 2013 guidelines. As much as 140 million American adults were recommended for behavioral weight loss treatment using the guidelines. Up to 116 million of these individuals could be eligible for pharmacotherapy and weight loss surgery could be considered for 32.0 million of those recommended for both behavioral treatment and pharmacotherapy. The 2013 guidelines recommended treatment for a larger proportion of people who are overweight, with only one risk factor, or having a large waist circumference–compared with the earlier guidelines from 1998.
We spoke with Dr. Christine Ren Fielding, expert weight loss surgeon and Professor of Surgery at NYU School of Medicine, about the implications of the study. She told us that it’s a “good start towards educating physicians and the public about the practical treatment and early intervention options for the chronic condition of obesity.” The study comes at a time when the American obesity epidemic is one of the worst in the world. The Obesity Guidelines are meant to offer primary care providers empirically based and effective weight loss treatments for those struggling with obesity. If the obesity problem isn’t addressed and treated, experts fear that it will get much worse. A recent report predicted that as much as 42 percent of Americans will be obese in 2030. You can read more about their predictions here.