U.S. Obesity Rates In Adults, Children Level Off : The Two-Way The adult rates for obesity and overweight rate in the U.S. appears to have stabilized according to a study by Centers for Disease Control researchers.
NPR logo U.S. Obesity Rates In Adults, Children Level Off

U.S. Obesity Rates In Adults, Children Level Off

The obligatory obese-person-from-the-neck-down photo that must always run with obesity stories. Clara Molden/PA Wire/Press Association via AP Images hide caption

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Clara Molden/PA Wire/Press Association via AP Images

As Mark noted in an earlier post, even as we remain justifiably focused on the incomprehensible devastation in Haiti, there is other news. So we'll try to bring you some of what else is happening as we continue to follow the international efforts to aid Haiti.

To that end, there's a health-related story worth noting related to two articles in the Journal of the American Medical Association or JAMA. The adult rates for obesity rate in the U.S. for both adults and children appears to have stabilized according to a study by Centers for Disease Control researchers.

I've done my part to contribute to this welcome trend, losing about 50 pounds in the past five months or so by counting my calories and walking on a treadmill for an hour most days.

The articles are heavy on the statistics to the point that you'd probably have to be statistician to make sense of a lot in them. But the bottom-line is summed up in this paragraph in the article on adult obesity rates:

In 2007-2008, the prevalence of obesity was 32.2% among adult men and 35.5% among adult women. The increases in the prevalence of obesity previously observed do not appear to be continuing at the same rate over the past 10 years, particularly for women and possibly for men.

While that sounds like good news on its face, the bad news is that obesity and overweight is still a significant problem in the U.S.

The article continues:

The prevalence of obesity in the United States continues to be high, exceeding 30% in most sex and age groups. Comparisons between Canada and the United States show that obesity prevalence was higher in the United States in 1999-2002 than in Canada in 2004, with the difference largely due to higher obesity prevalence among women.10 Comparisons of obesity prevalence between Canada and the United States that are limited to white adults show no significant differences for men. A review of prevalence estimates in European countries found that the prevalence of obesity based on measured weights and heights varies widely from country to country, with higher prevalences in Central, Eastern, and Southern Europe. In most cases, the prevalence of obesity appeared lower in European countries than in the United States. However, estimates from other countries are not precisely comparable with US estimates because of differences in study methods, years of measurement and the age ranges, and methods of age adjustment or age categorization...

... The prevention and treatment of overweight and obesity on a populationwide basis are challenging. Population-based strategies that improve social and physical environmental contexts for healthful eating and physical activity are complementary to clinical preventive strategies and to treatment programs for those who are already obese.34For example, innovative public policy approaches include a variety of policy and environmental initiatives designed to increase fruit and vegetable consumption in underserved areas.35-36 Preventive population-level interventions having to do with the built environment and the food environment may lead to health benefits for the entire population, not only for the obese population; and some interventions may reduce excess body fat among the obese population even without large concomitant changes in weight.37 Enhanced efforts to provide environmental interventions may lead to improved health and to future decreases in the prevalence of obesity.

As NPR's Patti Neighmond reports:

Researchers are quick to point out this doesn't mean the obesity epidemic has reversed. But it isn't getting worse either.

Health officials don't know why but suspect powerful public health and media messages about weight and health problems have finally motivated people and institutions to think twice about diet and exercise.

Many school districts have also made changes, taking vending machines out of school cafeterias and offering salad bars. But, even though our national weight is stable two thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese and almost one fifth of children are obese. Recent studies show obesity related illness accounts for one tenth the US healthcare budget.