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Mar 15, 2012

Obesity Rates Stabilizing, Reports Show

Obesity rates have stabilized nationally but have increased in certain populations since the late '90s.

Public health experts have been concerned with the U.S. obesity epidemic for years. As overweight and obesity rates climb, so does risk for diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and certain cancers. And with roughly two-thirds of adults overweight or obese, the majority of Americans face these serious health risks, costing the U.S. roughly $147 billion a year.

Despite these alarming statistics, there is some good news. After comparing data from the most recent U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2009 to 2010 with past data, experts found that obesity rates have actually leveled off over the past 12 years. The current rate of obesity in adults—nearly 36 percent—has remained stable since 1999, and childhood obesity seems to have stabilized in recent years, holding around 17 percent since 2007. Additionally, while the average body mass index (BMI) of men rose slightly from 27.7 in 2000 to 28.7 in 2010, the average body mass index (BMI) of women remained unchanged at about 28.5 over the last 10 years.

But not everyone was so lucky. Certain populations did see small but significant increases in obesity rates over these 12 years, including black women and Mexican-American women and men. Researchers also found that while childhood obesity rates have leveled off since 2007, obesity rates in male children and teens have increased significantly between 1999 and 2000.

Overall, these findings are promising and will continue to help in the fight against obesity. For those populations seeing a leveling off of obesity rates, there is an opportunity to reduce the impact of obesity and help reverse the recent trends. By identifying groups still experiencing increases in overweight and obesity, experts can tailor prevention programs to promote healthy weight among these unique populations.

Questions for You to Consider

  • Is the U.S. the only country combating obesity rates?

  • The U.S. is not alone. Most industrialized countries have experienced significant rises in obesity over the last 20 years. In fact, it is estimated that there are about about1 billion overweight adults globally, with at least 300 million obese. Fortunately, however, the CDC reports that other countries around the world have also had success in stabilizing obesity rates in recent years.


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