Obesity is killing America: Heart disease deaths related to weight have tripled since 1999

DALLAS — More people are dying of heart disease than ever — and obesity appears to be the main reason. Researchers working with the American Heart Association have found that obesity-related heart disease deaths have tripled between 1999 and 2020. Black Americans make up a majority of deaths compared to other racial groups, especially Black women.

“The number of people with obesity is rising in every country across the world. Our study is the first to demonstrate that this increasing burden of obesity is translating into rising heart disease deaths,” says lead study author and cardiologist Zahra Raisi-Estabragh, MD, a clinical lecturer at the William Harvey Research Institute in London, in an institutional media release. “This rising trend of obesity is affecting some populations more than others, particularly Black women.”

Adult obesity has remained an epidemic over the last two decades. According to the CDC, over 40 percent of Americans classify as obese today — a 10-percent jump from the last decade.

The new numbers come from researchers looking at data on factors that could contribute to obesity-related heart disease deaths. These ranged from differences in race, gender, and area of residence. They also analyzed data on 281,135 deaths in the past two decades where obesity was a contributing factor. Among the deaths, 43.6 percent were women.

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The major finding of the study was exposing the number of obesity-related cardiovascular disease deaths tripling from 2.2 per 100,000 population to 6.6 per 100,000 population between 1999 and 2020. Black individuals had the highest number of deaths than other racial and ethnic groups at 6.7 per 100,000 population. In other words, 19.8 percent of Black adults made up the death toll. Native Americans and Alaska Native adults made up the second and third highest groups, respectively.

Black women were most affected by obesity-related heart disease deaths. This was a stark contrast to what researchers found for other racial groups. In all other races and ethnicities, men were more likely to die from obesity-related heart disease than women.

“The trend of higher obesity-related cardiovascular death rates for Black women than men was striking and different from all other racial groups considered in our study,” says senior author Mamas A. Mamas, MD, D.Phil. a professor of Cardiovascular Medicine from Keele University in the United Kingdom.

Black adults living in cities showed higher rates of obesity-related heart disease deaths than Black adults living in rural towns. However, the opposite was true for all other races. Other than Black adults, rural residents showed higher rates of mortality than city dwellers.

According to Raisi-Estabaugh, one reason behind the high death toll among Black urban tenants is that they are more likely to live in low socioeconomic areas. Unlike other urban residents, Black people seem to not benefit from the increased access to health care and are more likely to face health inequalities.

The findings are published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

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About the Author

Jocelyn Solis-Moreira

Jocelyn is a New York-based science journalist whose work has appeared in Discover Magazine, Health, and Live Science, among other publications. She holds a Master’s of Science in Psychology with a concentration in behavioral neuroscience and a Bachelor’s of Science in integrative neuroscience from Binghamton University. Jocelyn has reported on several medical and science topics ranging from coronavirus news to the latest findings in women’s health.

The contents of this website do not constitute advice and are provided for informational purposes only. See our full disclaimer


  1. low IQ and low impulse control are the main factors for the high death rate among black women not access to healthcare

  2. “Unlike other urban residents, Black people seem to not benefit from the increased access to health care and are more likely to face health inequalities”
    Meaning that there is something in the black american culture that is responsible and whatever that is particularly effects black women.

  3. Is this what they will blame all the covid shot deaths on now? (or are they going to blame the increase in deaths on the “new covid variant”?) T.H.I.N.K.!

    1. Bingo…

      The best part about being a conspiracy theorist is that you don’t have Myocarditis…

      1. I call B.S. It’s not non-access to healthcare. It’s what they put into their mouths. Period. People don’t buy junk food because they can’t afford healthier alternatives. They buy it because that’s their choice. Increase sugar intake and you increase insulin and all of the metabolic complications that follow. Bad health and obesity is the result.

    2. Since only about 61% of the country’s population is considered obese, they can’t blame every death on this, only slightly more than half. They’ll need another scapegoat for the other 39%

  4. I agree that humans are becoming more obese. But I find it odd that with heart related medications (cholesterol drugs and HBP meds) being among the most prescribed meds, salt intake reduced, trans fats gone, etc., that heart related issues are still a number one problem. It’s almost like docs and pharma have been fooling us all along.

    1. They are taught lies so they perpetuate them. The food pyramid is upside down, for one. My blood pressure and sugar was very high so my Dr. said to cut out salt and eat less sugar but take blood pressure pills for the rest of my life. I cut out 90% of my sugar intake and my BP and sugar levels became normal. My Dr. never thought that sugar could be the culprit. High sugar intake and low fat diets result in inflammation,insulin resistance, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, plaques in arteries, and fatty liver. Obese people have all of these or will soon acquire it. High cholesterol is irrelevant to a body that has no inflammation and is healthy otherwise. So we can’t blame lack of health care like this article says otherwise you feed into the same lie.

    2. It’s the way we plan our cities. You get out of bed to sit at the breakfast table, then the toilette, then the car seat, then the office chair, then back to the car seat, then back to the car seat, then back to the dinner table, then on the couch, then back to bed. We might get a short walk after supper but the point is the suburbia to the city cycle and back is killing us.

      When we’re young we really don’t think about it until 35 when most start hitting the gym. Between school, travel and then office we become trapped in a sitting position most of the day other then short walks to the rest room.

      Port cities were necessary before the internal combustion or even steam power as everything was moved by horse and cart. The cities kept growing until they became giant, congested hell holes that only benefitted land owners. When people get sick a companies profit margins are reduced pushing up prices for all. By keeping city cores free of passenger vehicles we can force workers to get some required exercise and save on parking. Employers can give workers a time allotment to compensate. Healthy employees are productive. The minimum should be at least an hour a day. The alternative is to split these mega cities up gradually where different segments of business are located out of metro.

      We have to do it eventually anyways so we should be planning now. Maintaining infrastructure within city core is very expensive to maintain. We end up paying twice the tax just to marvel at a massive, expensive and congested city scape.

  5. There is a little thing called personal responsibility that people need to take seriously again. I don’t want to have to pay for obesity related operations or be blamed for race related bigs

  6. Obesity doesn’t kill anyone. This is tantamount to saying death is killing people. Obesity is a result of what kills these people. Eating and drinking in excess for pleasure rather than to fuel their body and a lack of structured strenuous exercise is what kills people. Exercise is not for appearance and it is not to make up for an uninformed and gluttonous diet. Obesity is the big red flag of irresponsible living.

  7. Dumbest “study” ever. Just more cover for all the myocarditis/pericarditis side effects as Vaccidents!

  8. let’s not forget the medical community strongly recommended that those who were overweight should get vaxxed and repeatedly boosted because they were at higher risk of contracting Covid. The Obese have been dying from heart disease forever. Why the sudden uptick now? This is the cost of Compliance.

  9. This all started with GMO’s and Mosanto Corn, which is in pretty much everything in some form.

  10. Just look at the people around us. Take personal responsibility. Eat what your body needs. I maintain a clean diet and exercise and 73 with no health problems. Stay away from processed food, move instead of clinging to a sofa/recliner. Stop expecting a doctor to treat an ailment after you mess your body up by being careless. Nothing new here about care of the body.

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