Background: A rise in the global prevalence of severe obesity (body mass index; BMI of ≥35 kg/m2 ) has been reported. In this study, we investigated the trends in the prevalence of severe obesity among Tehranian adults over the past two decades.
Methods: A representative sample of 10,045 Tehranians aged ≥19 years were followed from 1999 to 2017. The trends in the prevalence of severe obesity were investigated over six cross-sectional phases with 3.6-year intervals using generalized estimating equations.
Results: In this cohort, the overall prevalence of severe obesity increased from 4.6% (1.8% in males and 6.7% in females) in 1999 to 10.1% (4.7% in males and 14.3% in females) in 2017. The persisted rising in prevalence in the youngest age-group in both genders, with the most rapid increase among females aged 19–29 years, plateaued in the older ages and remained unchanged among males aged over 50 years. After age-sex standardized analysis by using Tehranian urban population data, the prevalence rates of severe obesity in Tehranian men and women were estimated to be 1.9% and 5.7% in 1996, and 4.5% and 10.9% in 2016, respectively.
Conclusion: A high prevalence of severe obesity among Tehranian adults has been stabilized over the past two decades. Preventive interventions should be focused on the younger and middle-aged population, to mitigate the subsequent burden of severe obesity on Tehranian population and the healthcare system.