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Am J Prev Med. 2005 Apr;28(3):291-4.

Obesity prevalence among veterans at Veterans Affairs medical facilities.

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Preventive Medicine Residency Program, Department of Social Medicine, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.



Obesity is a significant public health problem in the United States. Comprehensive obesity prevalence data among veterans have not been previously reported.


This is a cross-sectional analysis of 1,803,323 veterans receiving outpatient care at 136 Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facilities in 2000. Measured weight, height, and demographic data were used to obtain age-adjusted prevalences of body mass index (BMI) categories, which were stratified by gender and examined by age and race/ethnicity.


Of 93,290 women American veterans receiving care at VA medical facilities during 2000, 68.4% were at least overweight (body mass index [BMI]> or =25 kg/m(2)), with 37.4% classified as obese (BMI> or =30 kg/m(2)), and 6.0% as class-III obese (BMI> or =40 kg/m(2)). Of 1,710,032 men, 73.0% were at least overweight, 32.9% were obese, and 3.3% were class-III obese. Among women, obesity prevalence increased into the sixth and seventh decade of life before prevalence began to decline. Among men, prevalence was lowest for those aged <30 and >70. By race/ethnicity, Native American women (40.7%) and men (35.1%) had the highest prevalence of obesity, while Asian-American women (12.8%) and men (20.6%) had the lowest.


There is a substantial burden of obesity among veterans using VA medical facilities. A comprehensive approach for weight management by the Veterans Health Administration is needed.

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