A Nation Getting Fatter


Obese Man MeasurementMore Americans are overweight than ever before, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Since 2003, when 32% of the population was obese, the latest data show 36% of adults and 17% of children are obese today. Women fare the worst, with 38% of them obese, compared to 34% of men. Obesity was higher among middle-aged and older adults than younger adults. Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics were at higher risk than Asians. Almost 9% of preschoolers and more than 17% of children aged 6- to 11-years-old are obese. One in five teenagers is obese. This places a huge burden on the healthcare industry, since these people have a high risk for heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, dementia, arthritis, and mental health issues. In short, where there is excess body fat, there is a high rate of otherwise  preventable chronic diseases.

According to a study from Columbia University in New York, extreme obesity is costing the nation $69 billion a year, with Medicaid paying more than 10% of the annual cost for treating these patients or about $8 billion annually.

A study from the Mayo Clinic found that adults with normal weights but with excess body fat around the middle, called central obesity, have a high risk for premature death from a variety of diseases.

In Perspective: The CDC  study did not take into account the people who are overweight, but not yet obese, defined as having a BMI of 30 or more, and did not take into account people at a normal weight, but with central obesity as described in the Mayo Clinic study. The toll from excess body fat is likely to be dramatically higher when these additional populations are taken into consideration.

Prevalence of Obesity Among Adults and Youth: United States, 2011-2014. Published November 12, 2015. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db219.htm

Wang Y, Pamplin J, Long M, et al: Severe obesity in adults costs state Medicaid programs nearly $8 billion in 2013. Health Affairs 2015; 34:1923-1931.             

Sahakyan k, Somers V, Rodriquez-Escudero J, et al: Normal-weight central obesity. Annals of Internal Medicine 2015; November 10th.



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