The US could be hit with an even greater burden of obesity, according to new data published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, which showed the long-term risks of overweight or obese exceeded 50% and 25%, respectively.

The findings, which derived from more than 4,100 participants in the Framingham Heart Study, demonstrated the risks of overweight or obesity over a 10-30 period amongst individuals with a normal body mass index. The long-term risk estimates were similar for both men and women, with one in two people becoming overweight over the 30-year period and one in four becoming obese. One in 10 people went on to develop morbid obesity, with a BMI greater than 35.

An estimated 65% of US adults are either overweight or obese, with 30% considered obese – but the situation looks set to get worse. Dr Elizabeth Nabel, director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, which paid for the study, is reported to have said: "National surveys and other studies have told us that the United States has a major weight problem, but this study suggests that we could have an even more serious degree of overweight and obesity over the next few decades.”

And the impact on public health could be even greater that this study suggests, because the participants in this study were all white. Other ethnic groups are known to have a greater probability of developing overweight and obesity, thus the overall risk to the nation’s health could have been underestimated by these findings.