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Community Health Data Base
An Information Service of the Philadelphia Health Management Corporation

Obese More Likely to Suffer from Chronic Conditions
Monday. April 1, 2002

PHILADELPHIA, PA, April 2002 — Obesity is a known risk factor for many chronic and life-threatening health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.  In Southeastern Pennsylvania, data from a widespread survey of the region’s health show that locally more than one-third (36%) of obese adults have a chronic condition; this percentage represents 204,900 adults.

The survey, conducted in June of 2000 by the nonprofit Philadelphia Health Management Corporation (PHMC), further shows that:

  • More than two out of five (41%) adults who are obese have high blood pressure. This represents 238,000 Southeastern Pennsylvania adults.
  • Approximately three out of ten (31%) or 176,000 adults who are obese have high cholesterol.
  • Obese adults are two times as likely to have a heart condition (13%) compared to adults who are of normal weight (7%).  
  • Obese adults are five times as likely to be diabetic (15%) compared to adults who are of normal weight (3%). 
  • Adults who are obese are almost two times as likely to have asthma (10%) compared to adults who are of normal weight (6%).

Healthful dietary habits, such as decreasing fat intake and increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables, combined with increased physical activity can help individuals achieve and maintain a normal weight. Weight loss in obese adults has been shown to decrease the many health risks associated with obesity.

The adverse health effects of obesity have created enormous added health care costs. According to the American Obesity Association, more than $100 billion is spent in the U.S. annually for care of chronic health conditions associated with obesity.     
The data shown above are from PHMC’s Southeastern Pennsylvania Household Health Survey is a major telephone survey of more than 10,000 households in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia. The next Household Health Survey will be conducted in the summer of 2002.

PHMC is a nonprofit, public health organization committed to improving the health of the community through outreach, education, research, planning, technical assistance, and direct services. PHMC is a United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania member agency. Additional Household Health Survey findings are located online at