How many of us will be obese in 2050?

Approximately 42% of the US population will be obese in 2050, according to a new study by Hill and colleagues from Harvard.

In the study, just published in PLoS Computational Biology, the authors predict the obesity epidemic will also plateau around this time. That is, 42% obesity rate is the predicted maximum level at which point an equilibrium will be reached.

The authors have this to say about their prediction:

While not great, this is a much more optimistic estimate than 100%.

That is certainly true.

If their prediction is correct, it would suggest a fairly gradual rise in obesity rates over the next 40 years, from the approximately 34% of the US population that is currently obese.

But how did they arrive at such a grand conclusion?

I can assure you 80’s era Michael J Fox cruising in a DeLorean were not part of the methodology.

Instead, the paper’s methodology had a little bit of…

with a hint of….

and finally, a dab of…

Any questions?

Have a wonderful weekend,


Hill, A., Rand, D., Nowak, M., & Christakis, N. (2010). Infectious Disease Modeling of Social Contagion in Networks PLoS Computational Biology, 6 (11) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000968

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6 Responses to How many of us will be obese in 2050?

  1. Joel says:

    You know, I’m not entirely sure how they derived the value for β.

    Or any of the other value, for that matter.

  2. Pingback: Obesity rate will reach 42 percent, Harvard researchers say - SmartPlanet

  3. Tom Quick says:

    Not to change the subject or anything, but when are you going to dig into the paleo diet? Or have you already published something on the toxicity of grains already?

    The paleos put a whole new spin on the concept of what’s kosher.

    • gregdowney says:

      Yeah, I’d love to see that! We’ve been writing about the paleo diet people over at Neuroanthropology, but not from the perspective of nutrition. Instead, I’ve just been harshing on them for their paleoanthropology!

  4. ben says:

    So what’s the obesity percentage in 2010?

  5. theshortearedowl says:


    When the media talk about “good cholesterol” and “bad cholesterol” are they referring to lipoprotein complexes? (LDL and HDL?)

    And if so, surely the problems with LDL and HDL go beyond cholesterol as a substance, and are bound up with triglyceride/fatty acid intake?

    And why can’t people just use the real words for things and stop confusing me?