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Nearly Half of U.S. Adults Will Be Obese in 20 Years

Nearly Half of U.S. Adults Will Be Obese in 20 Years

By 2030, 42 percent of Americans — almost half the population — will be overweight, says a just-published study (PDF) by researchers from Duke University in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. That would mean that 32 million more people in the U.S. will be overweight in the next twenty years, adding $550 billion in health spending. Obesity increases our risk for developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer.

Today, over 78 million Americans are obese, 35.7 of the population. For an adult, obesity is defined as having a body mass index of 30 or higher; a person who is 5’9″ (1.75 meters tall) would be obese if he or she weighs over 203 pounds (92 kilograms), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Obesity Rate Slowing Down But Still Rising

While the obesity epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s seems to be slowing down, it is by no means ending and even “small continuing increases will add up,” as Lauren Neergaard writes in the Associated Press. She also notes a worsening problem, a doubling in the number of those who severely obese — over 100 pounds overweight — by 2030. Half of adults who are severely obese were obese as children and 17 percent of U.S. children are now obese, three times as many as in the previous generation.

According to the study’s lead author, Duke University health economist Eric Finkelstein, one reason that the obesity rate will continue to rise is that the U.S. population is both growing and aging, and those who are 45 to 64 are most likely to be obese. Researchers collected data via a wide-scale telephone survey conducted by the CDC and also drew on statistics the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other organizations including the American Chamber of Commerce Research Association.  To calculate how much the obesity rate could rise in the near future, they also drew on factors such as food prices, the prevalence of fast-food restaurants and unemployment.

The study found that obesity rates have stayed about the same in women but rose in men, with the increase occurring mostly in higher-income men. There were “small increases” in obesity among boys, especially among those who are African-American, says the CDC.

Most Mothers Overlook Obesity in Toddlers

Another recently published study suggests that, after two decades of living in the obesity epidemic, it has become more difficult for some to recognize weight problems. The study in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine found that more than two-thirds of mothers were inaccurate in recognizing that their toddlers were overweight. The study surveyed 281 mothers (71 percent of whom were African-American) recruited from two clinics, one in Baltimore and another in a nearby suburb, which serve mostly low-income mothers; the researchers chose to assess low-income families because children from them are at a higher risk of being overweight.

In an accompanying editorial, pediatrician Eliana Perrin pointed out that ”being overweight has become the norm for too many children and parents,” making it harder to recognize weight problems.

Has being overweight become the “new normal” for too many of us?

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57 comments

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6:19PM PDT on May 27, 2012

Unnatural foods and lifestyles come with consequences....

4:44AM PDT on May 10, 2012

Let's measure health, not weight. Statistics can be used to prove anything at all, you all know that. As another commenter said, it's a scary statistic. Don't be fooled - instead of getting scared of a weight or a word please consider supporting access to healthy affordable food and enjoyable movement options that people enjoy and that they can safely and affordably access. Don't discriminate against fat people because of reports like this.

5:33PM PDT on May 9, 2012

why do dr.'s always have a medication for every medical problem that you have???? Go medicene-less!

2:37PM PDT on May 9, 2012

We need to stop living for the job. We need to look more at our lives as people. We need more orgnic food avalible at competive prices. We need to stop talking so much about over weight. We need to love one another more.

2:34PM PDT on May 9, 2012

Very alerting information... People need to be more aware of the dangers of obesity. Most people refuse to accept or even care about it though. It's a frightening statistic.

7:44AM PDT on May 9, 2012

I say it again, EDUCATION!!! It needs to be taught at a very early age-----nutrition. Growing seeds, visiting a community garden, school gardens, helping to prepare nutritious dishes. These things and more will have the biggest impact on children.

5:14AM PDT on May 9, 2012

Too many steaks and burgers in USA, also children are stuffed with sweet stuff so how are they supposed to know any different when they grow up.

10:59PM PDT on May 8, 2012

Good news for future population control.

10:40PM PDT on May 8, 2012

Can you imagine being one of the billions of people who are hungry every day and see so many Americans who have made themselves obese through sheer gluttony?

How would that make you feel?

8:18PM PDT on May 8, 2012

BMI is not a great measure. An NFL running back(key word being running back, not offensive lineman, some of those guys are fat) who is 5'10 210, can do 25 pullups, run a 6 minute mile, and has 8% body fat will be told by BMI that he is fat. Body fat is the true measure here, as that is what the risk factor is.

Some people are genetically predisposed, but they are extremely rare. It is our lifestyles that have changed, not our genes.

Anyone with enough motivation can lose weight. The real problem, is that people don't work hard enough. How many fat people do you see in CrossFit classes? Or perhaps I should say how many people put in a year of that sort of training and are still fat? I have never seen one. I have seen people go to the gym regularly and still be fat, but they are not working at a CrossFit level.

Here is a sample workout: 15 pullup, 15 thrusters, 1/2 mile SPRINT! Do 5 rounds of that. The key here, is that the 1/2 mile needs to be a timed sprint. If you are not suffering at the end of each 1/2 mile sprint you are not trying hard enough. Ideally, it helps to use a stopwatch for the sprint. The simple fact is that most people don't want to make the effort. In general, the hardest working people I see in the gym (and I notice this stuff) are the ones in the best shape. Actually, strike the 'in general' part of that. If you want to be in great shape, it takes hard work.

One of the things that really bothers me is the messages we get: The

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