Trends in obesity prevalence among adults aged 20 and over (age-adjusted) and youth aged 2–19 years: United States, 1999–2000 through 2013–2014. Graphic: Ogden, et al., 2015 / NCHS

By Ed Cara
14 November 2015

(Medical Daily) – Americans are still getting fatter, a new CDC report finds.

The battle of the bulge is still a losing one, according to a new report released this November by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The report, conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), found that adult obesity rates in the US have only risen in the past three years, after having stayed relatively stable throughout the previous decade. Furthermore, women have definitively become the heavier gender, with a 38 percent rate vs 34 percent seen in men. About the only saving grace is that rates of child obesity have remained level, at 17 percent.

In order to come to their conclusions, the report authors scoured data taken from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHNES), a representative survey of 5,000 or so Americans performed annually by the CDC. Unlike your standard online poll, the NHNES actually requires its participants, recruited from across the country, to undergo physical examinations. This allowed the current researchers to accurately calculate the subjects’ obesity rate, as judged by their Body Mass Index, or BMI. While BMI is hardly the perfect measure of an individual’s health, it’s an effective enough tool when used on large populations.The researchers specifically keyed in on NHNES data from 2011 to 2014.

Compared to 2011-2012, the obesity rate among all adults (20 and older) climbed to 37.7 percent, from 34.9 percent. These numbers bode especially worse for minority groups, particularly black and Hispanic women. Nearly 46 percent of Hispanic women and nearly 57 percent of black women were obese, greatly overshadowing men at 39 percent and 37.5 percent, respectively. When it came to age, those 40 to 59 were the heaviest, at just a smidge over 40 percent, but this again broke down across gender lines, with 42 percent of women aged 40-59 obese.

The figures are particularly sobering in light of encouraging research showing that some contributing factors of obesity, like soft-drink consumption, have declined among Americans in recent years. NHNES data prior to 2011-2014 also indicated that we had reached a obesity plateau since 2005. Earlier this November, Medical Daily reported on research finding that Americans’ diets have become noticeably healthier since 1999. The study, however, only looked as far back as 2012, meaning that any recent trends of unhealthy eating may have gone unnoticed. As with obesity in general, the reasons behind our continuing weight gain are likely complex. [more]

We're Still Losing The War On Obesity — Especially Women

Key findings: Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

  • In 2011–2014, the prevalence of obesity was just over 36% in adults and 17% in youth.
  • The prevalence of obesity was higher in women (38.3%) than in men (34.3%). Among all youth, no difference was seen by sex.
  • The prevalence of obesity was higher among middle-aged (40.2%) and older (37.0%) adults than younger (32.3%) adults.
  • The prevalence of obesity was higher among non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, and Hispanic adults and youth than among non-Hispanic Asian adults and youth.
  • From 1999 through 2014, obesity prevalence increased among adults and youth. However, among youth, prevalence did not change from 2003–2004 through 2013–2014.

Obesity is associated with health risks (1,2). Monitoring the prevalence of obesity is relevant for public health programs that focus on reducing or preventing obesity. No significant changes were seen in either adult or childhood obesity prevalence in the United States between 2003–2004 and 2011–2012 (3). This report provides the most recent national data on obesity prevalence by sex, age, and race and Hispanic origin, using data for 2011–2014. Overall prevalence estimates from 1999–2000 through 2013–2014 are also presented. [more]

Prevalence of Obesity Among Adults and Youth:  United States, 2011–2014

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