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The Vicious Twins: Hypertension and Obesity In America

1 month ago

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Posted on Jun 07, 2024, 1 p.m.

America is facing a rapid increase in obesity and morbid obesity, in fact, it’s an epidemic. Both obesity and hypertension (high blood pressure) are serious health issues that can lead to serious complications if left untreated.

Obesity and hypertension have been linked in many studies, and studies have also shown that weight gain is associated with an increased risk of developing hypertension. 

Often poor lifestyle characteristics and health metrics cluster together to create complex and hard-to-treat phenotypes. For example, excess body mass can facilitate a cascade of pathological conditions that create direct links to obesity and hypertension which consequently increase the risk for potential negative consequences such as cardiovascular disease.

The Vicious Twins

Obesity is associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease and early onset of cardiovascular morbidity. This epidemic is a major source of unsustainable healthcare costs, morbidity, and mortality due to hypertension, type 2 diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia, certain cancers, and major cardiovascular diseases.

Hypertension if left uncontrolled is similar to obesity in being a key unfavorable health metric with deleterious health implications, including being a leading contributor to the global disease burden. 


Hypertension is a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, lowering blood pressure has been shown to decrease the incidence of stroke, heart attack, and heart failure. In 2021, high blood pressure was a primary contributing cause of 691,095 deaths within the nation and costs on average about $131 billion annually. 

Estimates from the American Heart Association using data from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey suggest that hypertension is a serious issue. Their findings are in line with those from the National Center for Health Statistics suggesting that the prevalence of hypertension was 45.4% among adults, and this was higher among men (51%) than women (39.7%). 

The prevalence of hypertension increases with age. Among those aged 18-39 years old the prevalence was 22.4%, for those between 40-59 years old it increased to 54.5%, and among those aged 60 and older, the prevalence of hypertension increased to an alarming 74.5%. It is estimated that only 1 in 4 adults with high blood pressure has their blood pressure under control. 


Obesity is a serious risk factor for high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, metabolic syndrome, fatty liver disease, breathing problems, sleep apnea, asthma, osteoarthritis, gout, kidney disease, pregnancy issues, fertility problems, sexual function problems, mental health problems, coronary heart disease, end-stage renal disease, diseases of the gallbladder and pancreas as well as some cancers. 

Many adults with obesity also have other serious chronic health conditions. The CDC estimates that 58% of U.S. adults with obesity also have high blood pressure, and 25% have diabetes. According to the National Institutes of Health, obesity and overweight together are the second leading cause of preventable death in the country, causing an estimated 300,000 deaths annually. Obesity accounts for nearly $173 billion in healthcare costs annually. 

The prevalence of obesity data shows that 22 states in America have adult obesity at or above 35% of the population, according to the CDC. Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey indicates that across the nation 1 in 3 adults are overweight, more than 2 in 5 have obesity, and 1 in 11 have severe obesity. By age 39.8% of adults aged 20-39 years old are obese, 44.3%  of adults aged 40-59 are obese, and 41.5% of adults aged 60 and over are obese. To add to this, 16% of children between the ages of 2-9 years old are overweight, 19.3% have obesity, and 6.1% have severe obesity. However, these rates are rapidly increasing, highlighting the importance of developing effective public health awareness campaigns and interventions.

Has obesity become a greater risk to global health than hunger?

Obesity and hypertension are not just a serious public health concern in America, they have become a global epidemic. Approximately 1.1 billion people have hypertension around the world with a prevalence of 1 in 4 in men and 1 in 5 in women. The worldwide prevalence of obesity has tripled since 1975 according to the World Health Organization, with 16% of adults aged 18 and older and 8% of children between the ages of 5-19 living with obesity in 2022. This represents more than 1 billion people around the World being obese, making it the most common form of malnutrition in most countries. 

As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement. Additionally, it is not intended to malign any religion, ethic group, club, organization, company, individual, or anyone or anything. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. 

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This article was written by Tamsyn Webber at WHN.

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