|Unhealthy eating and physical inactivity are leading causes of death in the U.S. People are dying. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, unhealthy eating and inactivity cause 310,000-580,000 deaths every year—similar to the number of deaths caused by tobacco and 13 times more than are caused by guns.1
||Diet- and inactivity-related disabilities. Quality of life is reduced. Unhealthy eating and physical inactivity are major contributors to reduced quality of life and disabilities.
|Almost two-thirds (61%) of American adults are overweight or obese.2 Obesity rates in children have doubled in the last two decades, prompting concern about the rates of diet- and inactivity-related diseases that will occur as obese children age. 3
||Diet- and inactivity-related diseases are expensive. Better nutrition could reduce the cost of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes by $71 billion each year.5
Unhealthy eating and inactivity contribute to 310,000 to 580,000 deaths each year according to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Thats 13 times more than are killed by guns and 20 times more than by drug use.1
Leading Contributors to Premature Death1
The typical American diet is too high in saturated fat, sodium, and sugar and too low in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, calcium, and fiber. Such a diet contributes to four of the six leading causes of death and increases the risk of numerous diseases, including:
Leading Causes of Death6
(Diet and inactivity are leading risk factors for causes of death shown in bold.)
Unhealthy eating habits and physical inactivity are leading causes of disability and loss of independence:
Number of Americans Living with Diet- and Inactivity-Related Diseases
|Read more about how public policies could help reduce obesity.|
(Acrobat 1,157k )
Almost two-thirds (61%) of American adults are seriously overweight or obese.2
Obesity rates in children have doubled over the last two decades—14% of children and 12% of teens are now obese.3
Overweight and Obesity in the United States*
(percent of U.S. population)
* Figures for children are for obesity. Figures for adults are for overweight and obesity combined.
(Note: NHES and NHANES are national, multi-year studies of Americans eating habits and health sponsored by the United States government.)
Costs of Diseases Associated with Diet and Inactivity*
* Estimates of annual direct + indirect costs for diseases overall (including portions caused by factors other than diet
and physical inactivity.)
** Figure includes direct costs only.
According to the USDA, healthier diets could prevent at least $71 billion per year in medical costs, lost productivity, and lost lives.5 That is an underestimate because it accounts for only diet-related coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes and not other diet-related diseases. Obesity alone is estimated to cost $117 billion, and osteoporosis costs $14 billion in medical expenses.
According to the CDC, state and federal governments spend one thousand times more to treat disease than to prevent it ($1,390 vs. $1.21 per person each year).
Current investments to promote healthy eating and physical activity are insufficient