Obesity is a chronic disease that occurs when there is an increase in the size and amount of fat cells in the body. Obesity increases the risk of several health conditions, including cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, stroke, mental illness, body pain, and premature death.

While approximately 42% of American adults (more than two in five) have obesity, women are disproportionately affected by the obesity epidemic–both in terms of their health outcomes and the economic costs of the disease.

There are a range of treatment options for obesity, from lifestyle modifications to pharmacotherapy to surgery, but treatment options are not always accessible.

Obesity is part of the SWHR Healthy Aging Network, which engages the following focus areas: Alzheimer’s Disease, Bone Health, Heart Health, Menopause, and Obesity.

Program Goals

  • Review the obesity landscape, including the state of the science, health care disparities, and barriers to policy progress
  • Consider health care policies around obesity and how they contribute to health outcomes for women, with particular emphasis on cardiovascular disease
  • Develop materials to expand education and raise awareness among policymakers about access and coverage issues and offer recommendations on patient-centered health care policies for women affected by obesity

Facts about Obesity


pounds is the average weight gain for women each year during midlife

1 in 4

women live with obesity in the United States

$1.72 trillion

is economic burden of obesity in the United States

More about Obesity