Intended for non-US health care professionals


Samuel's BMI is 40

What is obesity?

Is obesity a disease?

European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO)

“A progressive disease, impacting severely on individuals and society alike, it is widely acknowledged that obesity is the gateway to many other disease areas.”12

The Obesity Society (TOS)

It is the official position of The Obesity Society that obesity should be declared a disease.8

American Medical Association (AMA)

"Recognizing obesity as a disease will help change the way medical community tackles this complex issue that affects approximately one in three Americans"9

American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE)

"...obesity is a primary disease, and the full force of our medical knowledge should be brought to bear on the prevention and treatment of obesity as a primary disease entitity"10

World Obesity Federation (WOF)


The World Obesity Federation takes the position that obesity is a chronic, relapsing, progressive disease process and emphasises the need for intermediate action and the prevention and control of this global epidemic.11


Acknowledgement of obesity as a disease could improve the overall management of obesity.14

How have global obesity trends changed?

The global prevalence of obesity has nearly tripled since 1975. In 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults aged ≥18 were overweight. Of these, 13% had obesity.15


  • Female
  • Male
prevalence of obesity among women, >18, 2016

What complications are linked to obesity?

Obesity is associated with more than 195 complications.18

obesity is associated with more than 195 complications
  • The prevalence of sleep apnoea in people with obesity is reported to be as high as 45%.19

  • The prevalence of dyslipidaemia in people with obesity is reported as 49.7%.20

  • Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of mortality in people with obesity.21

  • Males and females with obesity are nearly seven and >12 times, respectively, more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than someone without obesity.22

  • 40% of cancers diagnosed in the US (across 13 cancer types) are associated with overweight and obesity.23

  • Male and females with obesity are nearly  1.5 and two times, respectively, more likely to develop gallbladder disease than someone without obesity.22

  • Males and females with obesity are over four and two times, respectively, more likely to develop osteoarthritis than someone without obesity.22

The global economic impact of treating obesity and its related complications amounts to $800 billion per year and it is expected to reach $1.2 trillion by 2025.24


The cost of obesity is comparable to other non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular disease for which the global cost will reach $1 trillion by 2030.25

Why is it hard to lose weight and keep it off?

Physiological responses to weight loss favour weight regain.4,39-42

Weight loss alters the body's homeostatic system,43 which controls appetite, energy intake and energy expenditure,44 causing the body to increase hunger and lower the metabolic rate.43

Want to learn more about the science behind obesity? View our obesity mode of disease video. 

metabolic adaptations to weight loss

Weight loss in people with obesity causes changes in appetite hormones that increase hunger and the desire to eat for at least 1 year.4



How can obesity be treated?

Obesity should be treated holistically and as a serious chronic disease.10,47

Click here to explore our patient interaction tools to aid initiation or follow-up of dialogue with patients about their obesity management.

Science behind obesity additional materials

Explore the science behind obesity interactive infographic to learn more about the factors inside and outside the body that affect a person’s likelihood of developing obesity.