US obesity crisis unstoppable, researchers say
A frightening new report released on Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that almost 40 percent of American adults and nearly 20 percent of adolescents are obese. That is the highest rates ever recorded for the United States.
Published: October 14, 2017, 8:54 am
“It’s difficult to be optimistic at this point,” Dr. Frank Hu, chair of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, says. “The trend of obesity has been steadily increasing in both children and adults despite many public health efforts to improve nutrition and physical activity.”
The worrying weight increase in the youngest Americans is especially dangerous for long-term health. One in five adolescents, ages 12–19; one in five children, ages 6–11, and and one in ten preschoolers, ages 2–5 are considered obese, not just overweight, NBC News reported.
Obesity is scientifically defined as having a body-mass index of more than 30. The findings were released simultaneously with this week’s World Health Organization report that childhood obesity has increased more than tenfold over the past four decades.
Overweight and obese children have a higher risk to remain obese for the rest of their lives and childhood obesity is linked to a higher occurence of early death in adulthood.
The CDC report does not discuss why the obesity crisis continues to worsen. However, a recent study by epidemiologists at Georgia Southern University showed that fewer Americans, particularly women, are trying to lose weight.
Overall, 70.7 percent of Americans are either overweight or obese, which means than an unhealthy weight has become the norm. Americans with a normal weight — a BMI of less than 25 — are now in the minority. Public health experts believe an unhealthy diet and the lack of exercise are the two main culprits.
“There’s still a huge amount of cheap, accessible, highly processed food available everywhere almost anytime,” Hu explained. “And despite people doing more recreational activity these days, the overall activity level, household activity and occupational activity has decreased in recent years.”
The consequences of the obesity epidemic are devastating: High blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and stroke are killing millions of Americans annually.
It is also a massive burden on the American health care system, resulting in $190 billion a year in weight-related medical bills.
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