Studies Show Obesity Rates No Longer Expanding

Two recent studies conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed less than surprising statistics; 68 percent of adults and 32 percent of children are at least overweight. What did make headlines in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association is that the obesity rate in the U.S. appears to be leveling off.

Both studies examined trends in obesity from 1999 through 2008 and the current prevalence of obesity and overweight for 2007-2008. In the first study, 5,555 adults were surveyed using their height and weight measurements to calculate body mass index (BMI). Overweight was defined as a BMI of 25.0 to 29.9 and obesity was defined as a BMI of 30.0 or higher. [ Check your numbers with a BMI Calculator. ] The 2007-2008 study found 72 percent of men to be overweight, compared with 64 percent of women. However, a higher percentage of women were found to be obese; 35.5 percent compared with 32.2 percent for men. Age, racial and ethnicity differences were also compared. The researchers noted, "For women, the prevalence of obesity showed no statistically significant changes over the 10-year period from 1999 through 2008. For men, results from the periods 2003-2004, 2005-2006, and 2007-2008 did not differ significantly from each other, suggesting the increases in the prevalence of obesity previously observed "may not be continuing at a similar level over the period 1999-2008, particularly for women but possibly for men."


In the second study, 3,281 subjects in the 2-19 age group and 719 subjects in the birth-to-two years group were evaluated using the same protocols as in study one. The obesity rate for infants and toddlers in 2007-2008 was found to be 9.5 percent and 16.9 percent for two-through-19-year-olds.  Overall, the researchers concluded that during the time period studied, the rate of obesity among children has plateaued, except among the very heaviest 6 through 19-year-old boys.