FROM THE ARCHIVE
Americans young and old are getting fatter
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WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 9, 2002

An overwhelming number of adult Americans are considered overweight and their numbers are increasing every year, according to new studies.

Statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and published in the Journal of American American Medical Association point to a growing fat problem. Based on a survey of 4,000 men and women, the number of overweight adults rose 64 percent from 56 percent a few years ago.

Nearly one third of adult Americans -- 59 million people -- fit the separate and more serious category of obese. This was double the number ten years ago, the CDC reported.

"The problem keeps getting worse,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson. "We’ve seen virtually a doubling in the number of obese persons over the past two decades and this has profound health implications. Obesity increases a person’s risk for a number of serious conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and some types of cancer."

Fat affects Americans differently, according to the data. More adult women (33 percent) are obese than men (28 percent), the CDC said.

Women of minority ethnic groups also fare worse. Just about half of all African-American women were obese and more than 80 percent were overweight, said researchers. "The increases in overweight and obesity raise questions about the implications of these trends for health outcomes," wrote the authors of the JAMA article on adults.

Even the young are not spared. Over 10 percent of younger preschool children between ages 2 and 5 are overweight, up from 7 percent in 1994.

Another 15 percent of children and teens ages 6 to 19 are considered at risk of becoming overweight, the CDC said. Mexican-American and African-American children were particularly affected.

The statistics did not report separately on American Indians and Alaska Natives. But rates of problems associated with overweight or obese conditions are rampant in Indian Country.

Diabetes among Natives young and old has grown in recent years. Natives are also at highest risk of death from heart disease and certain cancers, according to federal reports.

The categories of overweight and obese are determined by a single number known as body-mass index, or BMI, which is a calculation based on height and weight. A BMI of 25 or higher is considered overweight while 30 or higher is obese.

Relevant Documents:
Prevalence of Overweight and Obesity Among Adults (CDC 10/8) | Prevalence of Overweight Among Children and Adolescent (CDC 10/8) | Prevalence and Trends in Obesity Among US Adults, 1999-2000 (JAMA. 2002;288:1723-1727 10/9)

Relevant Links:
Body Mass Index Information - http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/bmi/index.htm

Related Stories:
Screenings urged for new diabetes condition (3/28)
Diabetes: Eat less, Exercise more (8/9)
Diabetes epidemic cited nationwide (1/29)
Most Americans considered overweight (12/15)

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