IN THIS ISSUE
New Hormone Provides Clues About Weight Loss
Youths' Weight and Eating Patterns Fall Short of Healthy People 2010 Objectives
Can Eating Less Forestall Aging
Obesity in Youth Leads to Increased Economic Costs
Experts Discuss Developments in Bariatric Surgery
Health Information for Children and Teens
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Materials From Other Organizations
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Numbers Show Obesity Rates Rise Again
More than 64 percent of adults in the U.S. are overweight or obese. The latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveal with little surprise that the population continues to get heavier. This trend remains troubling to public health and health care professionals who search for causes and cures.
The new statistics from 1999 and 2000 are part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, an ongoing survey of adults representative of the U.S. population. The CDCs National Center for Health Statistics began collecting measured heights and weights of adults in 1960. For 20 years, the prevalence of overweight and obesity in the U.S. was relatively stable. Since the 1980s, rates have been on the rise.
Comparisons between the two most recent sets of data, 1988-1994 and 1999-2000, show a rise in the prevalence of overweight (body mass index [BMI] of 25 or higher) from 55.9 percent to 64.5 percent. Obesity (BMI of 30 or higher) increased from 22.9 percent to 30.5 percent. Further comparisons reveal that increases in BMI occurred regardless of sex, age, or race/ethnicity.
"Other developed countries, and even developing countries with growing economies, are experiencing similar trends in increasing body size."
Men of all racial and ethnic groups got heavier at a steady rate between the most recent two surveys. Among women, however, black women showed larger increases in rates of overweight and obesity than white or Mexican American women. The 1999-2000 survey reports that more than half of black women aged 40 and over are obese and more than eight in 10 are overweight.
Excess body weight can harm health. Obesity increases risk for developing diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, some cancers, arthritis, and other chronic conditions. The obesity/disease link is strikingly apparent when looking at rates of type 2 diabetes. About 17 million Americans have diabetes, and rates are highest among black women.
Several obesity-linked conditions, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease can be managed or treated with drugs or surgery. Lifestyle modification and/or pharmaceutical treatment can help prevent the development of diabetes. Addressing the underlying causes of obesity and developing effective interventions, however, remain complex tasks.
When placing U.S. statistics in a global context, they are not extraordinary. Other developed countries, and even developing countries with growing economies, are experiencing similar trends in increasing body size. Worldwide rates of obesity-related conditions, particularly diabetes, are also on the rise.
With such growing public health problems before them, public health and health care professionals continue to study the physical, social, economic, and cultural causes of obesity, and how to best prevent and treat it.
The full report appears in the October 9, 2002 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. s
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