Obesity, defined as 20% or more than the ideal weight or body mass index
(BMI, calculated as weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in
meters) of 30 or more, has reached epidemic levels in the United States, affecting
more than 30% of adults.1 Annual direct costs
for treating obesity-related medical illnesses have been estimated at nearly
$51.6 billion; the annual US expenditure on weight reduction exceeds $30 billion.2,3 It was recently estimated that the
prevalence of obesity in US adults increased by 8% during the past decade.
In the 21st century, obesity may be the number 1 US public health problem
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