Majority of American adults overweight or obese–bet on it

I am stunned by the magnitude of obesity I see.

Scary to think of the troubles these folks have created for themselves. Musculo skeletal, cardiovascular. A welfare state can do that.

Research letter: US adults who are obese outnumber those who are just overweight.
The Los Angeles Times (6/23, Kaplan) reports that US “adults who are obese now outnumber those who are merely overweight,” according to a research letter published in JAMA Internal Medicine. Researchers “estimated that 67.6 million Americans over the age of 25 were obese as of 2012, and an additional 65.2 million were overweight.”

The Washington Post (6/23, Cha) “To Your Health” blog reports that finding is “a startling shift from 20 years ago when 63 percent of men and 55 percent of women were overweight or obese and a depressing sign that campaigns to get Americans to eat healthier and exercise more may be failing.”

The CBS News (6/23, Welch) website reports that the study authors “analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2007 to 2012 to estimate the prevalence of overweight and obesity.” Included in the data was information on “15,208 men and women age 25 or older.”

TIME (6/23, Sifferlin) reports that “40% of men were overweight and 35% of men were obese” during that time period, whereas “30% of women were overweight and 37% were obese.” These figures “are similar to those estimated by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which suggest that one third of American adults are obese.”

MedPage Today (6/23, Wallan) reports that just “33% of Americans ages 25 to 54, and 28% of those 55 and older, fell into the normal weight category of having a body mass index (BMI) of 18.5-24.9.”

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7 responses to “Majority of American adults overweight or obese–bet on it

  1. Unfortunately, these numbers are meaningless in relation to any health indicators.

    Like many people, I went from overweight to obese overnight in 1999 when the classes were changed. At the time, I was an active amatuer sportsman with a body fat percentage around 12. Not particularly muscle-bound nor am I above average height, I had a BMI of just about 30 (still do to be honest and I can still run for an hour or two at 8-9 km/h quite happily, even if my body fat has climbed steadily).

    Add in the fact that people are still getting taller (with a concommittent higher bone ratio) and it makes the 18-25 “healthy” range an even greater travesty. Why is it that all of the death rate data shows being “overweight” correlates with longer life? BMI should be dropped as a health-related measure as it has been thoroughly discredited.

    • gonewiththewind

      Rob you hit the nail on the head with your point that in 1999 the standards were changed making most Americans overweight or obese. The BMI is a bizarre one size fits all arbitrary standard. What, exactly, is the scientific proof that BMI of 24.9 is “normal” while a BMI of 25.1 is over weight? It is illogical that somehow an arbitrary selection of the BMI cutoff should be on even numbers and not even reflect any studies of normal or average weights to decide what is “overweight”. Ironically studies have shown that a BMI of less the 27.5 is less healthy and leads to early death and illness.

      Americans are indeed overweight. But I travel to Europe and European adults are overweight too. Seriously, drive through Germany and watch the house fraus riding a bike on the road and you marvel at the strength of European bicycles. Look at documentaries of Africa where native African women are obese even in countries that are poor.

      True obesity is genetic. I don’t mean the arbitrary BMI greater than 30 I mean true obesity of 350-400 lbs. You get it from your parents not your food. Overweight is a genetic issue as well. It relates to the value to hunter gather cultures being able to store fat resources to survive famines. Then as a natural result if you live in a culture where food is plentiful you store fat, duh! Then of course there are people whose DNA makes them thin or more normal weight. It seems they eat everything and are still thin. Kinda blows the whole theory that it is just food that causes obesity or over weight.

      Obesity is not a good thing and I sympathize with people who have this genetic problem. It is unlikely that they can reverse it and ever achieve a “normal” weight. Overweight is a totally different issue. Most people can indeed diet and lose 20-30 lbs and even realy put in an effort and lose 50-60 lbs. But if your genes want you to be 50 lbs overweight you will spend the rest of your life dieting and fighting weight gain. Should you do this for your self esteem? Sure, why not. Should you do this to improve your health? Probably not. The evidence leans towards the fact that carrying a few more pounds is actually healthy for you.

  2. There’s so much money and enormous government programs and spending that require keeping alive an obesity crisis that skepticism is warranted. It’s so easy to lie and mislead with statistics. Changing what is measured is one easy way and negates the credibility of comparing stats. As we know, NHANES has been redesigned several times over these decades to reflect increasingly more minorities and poor people. With each NHANES, the same people are not being measured. The demographics of the population have also dramatically changed over the decades and America consists of considerably more ethnic minorities and immigrants with different genetics than even just decades ago. BMI is also not just weight, it also reflects height and heights across all demographics have increased significantly.

    The bottom line is that Health United States 2014 issued by HHS continues to not support a crisis of death and disease in our country. Life expectancies have increased 1.9 years for males and 1.5 years for females in the past decade. Infant mortality has decreased 13%, age-adjusted heart disease death rate decreased 28% over the past decade and cancer deaths are down 15%, strokes down 34%, chronic lower respiratory diseases down 11%.

    Social ills and errant social policies do appear to be adversely affecting the health of the country, for example: drug poisonings involving opiod analgesics are up nearly double and suicides up 17%.

  3. While I would agree that we seem to be getting heftier as a nation, I’m going to object to several things.

    1) That this is a result of the welfare state. Not so. It’s a result of the same thing that allows the welfare state to exist. Wealth. A high standard of living along with lowered levels of necessary physical activity, that’s why we have been packing on the pounds.

    2) That we are “overweight”. “Over” implies a theoretical optimum weight, and I, for one, am somewhat skeptical about the accuracy of any such claim in the aggregate, much less on an individual basis. Here I am objecting to the ACCURACY of the standard, not to whether a category such as “overweight” could exist.

    There is a deep strain of puritanical moralizing around food and weight issues, which, when combined with the almost total absence of any meaningful research into the effects of being “underweight”, results in a “science” environment stacked to one side.

  4. ernestncurtis

    Excellent comments by all. Sandy, thank you for reminding us of the elephant in the room—steadily increasing longevity despite the never ending health “crises”. I would add the observation that weight tends to increase with age in societies that are prosperous with abundant food supplies and those of the baby boom generation–by far the largest in history–are now well into their 50s and 60s.

  5. If anyone could point out a study, even vaguely scientific, that can prove what factors go into deciding what the ideal weight is for a human, and what the ideal weight would be based on those factors, I would appreciate it. There would seem to be numerous factors that would have to be taken into account, other than just weight and height: Age, gender, muscle density, bone density, bone size, genetics, congenital medical problems, food allergies and sensitivities, previous illnesses, previous medications, and environmental considerations, to name a few off the top of my head.

    Our weight tables are based upon cultural norms, and those tables were established before the vast abundance of food was available. As far as I know, there has never been a time in history where so many people have had so much food. In places of the world where there is hunger, it is almost always because of political forces preventing food from getting to the people.

  6. Shouldn’t the “normal” weight on such charts be based on a bell curve that shows what a large number of people in any particular society actually weigh? Isn’t that how scientists decide what is the “normal” weight for any other species?

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