Nearly three in five American adults take a prescription drug, which is up markedly since 2000 because of much higher use of almost every type of medication, from antidepressants to treatments for high cholesterol and diabetes.
In a study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found the prevalence of prescription drug use among people 20 and older had risen to 59 percent in 2012 from 51 percent just a dozen years earlier. During the same period, the percentage of people taking five or more prescription drugs nearly doubled, to 15 percent from 8 percent.
One likely factor driving the increase in prescription drug use: Obesity.
Researchers noted that eight of the 10 most commonly used drugs in the United States are used to treat hypertension, heart failure, diabetes or other elements of the "cardiometabolic syndrome." In addition, another frequently prescribed drug treats gastroesophageal reflux, a condition that's widespread among people who are overweight or obese.