Abstract for:A dynamic age-structured model for understanding long-term trends in US obesity prevalence

Objective: Evidence about future obesity trends is needed to inform decisions about policies and interventions.  We aimed to: (1) evaluate potential future trends in childhood and adult obesity prevalence across gender and age groups in the United States (US), (2) evaluate potential leverage points for obesity prevention that have the most potential to impact future trends in US obesity prevalence.  Methods: We built and used an age- and gender-structured system dynamics model and described interactions and transitions between weight status.  The model was parameterized and calibrated with national surveillance data.  We simulated projections of overall obesity prevalence to 2050 and assessed potential leverage points by conducting policy experiments that simulated increased prevention of overweight and obesity among different age groups.  Results: Our model estimated slower but continued future increases in obesity prevalence across all age and gender groups.  Our policy experiments showed that adult obesity prevention efforts had the largest effect on overall US obesity prevalence.  Conclusions: Our dynamic model suggests that it is highly plausible that US obesity prevalence will continue to grow for decades to come.  In order to mitigate health and economic costs, more emphasis on overweight and obesity prevention among adults may be required.