January 2, 2020

Obesity research

Our researchers have published more than 500 articles related to obesity since 2007. Together, these articles have been cited 20,800 times.

This brief summarizes the contributions of Kaiser Permanente Research since 2007 on the topic of obesity, including risk factors, strategies for improving member health and well-being, and translation of research into policy and practice. 

Obesity is a common but serious health condition defined by high weight relative to a person’s height. Weight-to-height ratios are measured using the BMI (Body Mass Index) scale. In general, a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered a healthy weight. BMIs in the range of 25 to 29.9 are classified as overweight, and BMIs of 30 or greater are classified as obese.1 According to the National Center for Health Statistics, more than 39% of U.S. adults are obese,2 and obesity prevalence among children age 2 to 19 is 18.5%.3

Publications related to obesity since 2007

563 Journal Articles, 99 Practice Guideline References (b), 27,500 Citations (a), 60 Clinical Decision Aid References (c)

Source: Kaiser Permanente Publications Library and PLUM metrics, as of October 8, 2019

a. Number of citing journal articles, according to Scopus.
b. Number of references in PubMed guidelines.
c. Citations in DynaMed Plus, a point-of-care clinical reference tool.

Obesity is an active area of study for Kaiser Permanente Research. Scientists across the program have used our rich, comprehensive, longitudinal data to advance knowledge in the areas of understanding risk, improving patient outcomes, and translating research findings into policy and practice. We have published more than 560 articles related to obesity since 2007.4 Together, these articles have been cited 27,500 times.

These articles are the product of observational studies, randomized controlled trials, meta-analyses, and other studies led by Kaiser Permanente scientists. Our unique environment — a fully integrated care and coverage model in which our research scientists, clinicians, medical groups, and health plan leaders collaborate — lets us contribute generalizable knowledge on obesity, and many other topics of research.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Defining Adult Overweight and Obesity. 2016; https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/adult/defining.html. Accessed July 30, 2018.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Adult Overweight and Obesity. 2017; https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/adult/index.html. Accessed July 30, 2018.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Childhood Obesity Facts. 2018; https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/childhood.html Accessed July 30, 2018.
  4. Kaiser Permanente Publications Library (KPPL) Search Strategy. Search conducted 23 March 2018 using search term: (dc.title:BMI OR dc.title:obese OR dc.title:obesity OR dc.title:overweight OR dc.subject.mesh:obesity) AND dc.type:”Journal Article” AND (dc.date.issued:[2007 2018]).