Obesity is a leading cause of preventable illness and death in North America. In recent years, the number of overweight people in industrialized countries has increased significantly, so much so that the World Health Organization (WHO) has called obesity an epidemic. In the United States, 69% of the adult population are overweight or obese. In Canada, the self-reported data shows that 40% of men and 27% of women are overweight, and 20% of men and 17% of women are obese.
People who are obese are at a much higher risk for serious medical conditions such as high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, gallbladder disease, and different cancers than people who have a healthy weight.