Obesity in the U.S.: Trends and Competing Explanations

Diane S. Lauderdale, University of Chicago

Obesity has been termed an “epidemic” by CDC and others. This paper reviews the evidence that obesity has increased dramatically in the US since 1980 and details the relative impact on different sex and race groups. Researchers have proposed a number of hypotheses about what social factors have driven this trend, including perspectives rooted in economics, epidemiology, clinical medicine and political science. Some of these hypotheses will be described. The evidence in support of the novel hypothesis that declining sleep hours in the US are contributing to weight gain will be highlighted.

Presented in Session 2: The Obesity Epidemic: Evidence and Hypotheses