Obesity, already at record levels in the USA

Obesity, already at record levels in the USA, is set to be the norm for 41% of adults within the next eight years - three-quarters of Americans will be overweight by 2015, according to a new study carried out by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. They also predict that by 2015 almost 24% of children and adolescents in the USA will be obese/overweight.
The researchers found that obesity/overweight rates in America have been steadily increasing at a median rate of 0.2% to 0.8% annually over the past three decades across a wide spectrum of society. In the 1960s 13% of adults in the USA were obese, by 2004 that figure had reached 32%.

Obesity rates seem to have increased at a faster rate among minority and low socioeconomic groups.

Youfa Wang, one of the researchers, said "The obesity rate in the United States has increased at an alarming rate over the past three decades. We set out to estimate the average annual increase in prevalence as well as the variation between population groups to predict the future situation regarding obesity and overweight among U.S. adults and children. Obesity is a public health crisis. If the rate of obesity and overweight continues at this pace, by 2015, 75% of adults and nearly 24% of U.S. children and adolescents will be overweight or obese."

Overweight is defined as a person whose Body Mass Index (BMI) is above 25, while an obese person's BMI is 30 or over.

At the moment about 16% of US children/adolescents are overweight and 34% are at risk of overweight. Women aged 20-34 have the fastest rate of increase to be overweight or obese. 80% of African-American women over the age of forty are overweight, with 50% classed as obese.

"The Obesity Epidemic in the United States - Gender, Age, Socioeconomic, Racial/Ethnic, and Geographic Characteristics: A Systematic Review and Meta-Regression Analysis"

Youfa Wang and May A. Beydoun
Epidemiologic Reviews 2007 29(1):6-28; doi:10.1093/epirev/mxm007

Premature death. It is estimated that 300,000 deaths per year in the USA are attributable to obesity. The more you weigh, the greater the risk. If your BMI is greater than 30 you have a 50-100% higher risk of premature death compared to a person with a healthy weight.

Expect in-depth, science-backed toplines of our best stories every day. Tap in and keep your curiosity satisfied., sudden cardiac death, angina and abnormal heart rhythm is greater for people whose BMI is above 25.

-- Hypertension. An obese person has twice the risk of having high blood pressure compared to someone of normal weight.

-- Cholesterol/Blood fat. If you are obese your levels of blood fat will be higher and your levels of HDL (good cholesterol) will be lower than those of a person of normal weight.

-- Diabetes. If you put on 11-18 pounds your risk of developing diabetes type 2 are double, compared to a person who has not gained weight. More than 80% of people with diabetes are overweight/obese.

-- Cancer. A person who is overweight/obese has a higher risk of developing the following cancers: colon, gall bladder, kidney, prostate, post-menopausal breast cancer.

-- Sleep apnea. A much higher percentage of obese people suffer from interrupted breathing while sleeping than people of normal weight.

-- Arthritis. Your risk of developing arthritis goes up 9-13% for every 2-pounds extra weight you put on.

-- Pregnancy. If the pregnant mother is obese the risk of her or her baby dying is much greater, compared to a pregnant mother whose weight is normal - the risk of maternal high blood pressure is ten times higher. Obese mothers are more likely to have problems with labor and delivery. The risk of developing gestational diabetes is much higher if the woman is obese. Obese pregnant women are at a higher risk of giving birth to babies with birth defects, such as spina bifida.
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