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STUDY: Survey of bodymeasurements reveals skyrocketing obesity rates in kids and adults
JOURNAL: Journal of the American Medical Association
AUTHORS: Cynthia Ogden
ABSTRACT: Americans are even fatter than they think they are, with nearly a third of all adults — almost 59 million people — rated obese in a disturbing new government survey based on actual body measurements.
COMMENTARY: One in five Americans, or 19.8 percent, had considered themselves obese in a 2000 survey based on people’s own assessments of their girth.
The new 1999-2000 survey puts the real number at 31 percent — a doubling over the past two decades. The new number is considered more reliable since people consistently underestimate their weight. The number of those considered overweight but not yet obese increased during the past 20 years from 56 percent to 65 percent. An accompanying survey found the number of overweight children has tripled over the same period.
“The problem keeps getting worse,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson. “This has profound health implications.”
Cynthia Ogden, one of the authors of the studies from the National Center for Health Statistics, said increases in portion sizes, eating out more frequently and an inactive population were all to blame for the problem.
The measurement-based survey of young people found that 15 percent of youngsters ages 6 to 19 were seriously overweight. That is nearly 9 million youths and triple the number in a similar assessment from 1980. Even toddlers were affected, with more than 10 percent of children ages 2 through 5 seriously overweight, compared with 7.2 percent in 1994.
The studies published The Journal of the American Medical Association found that the biggest weight gains have been seen in people over the age of 60, black and Mexican-American teens and black women.
Obesity increases the risk for a number of serious ailments, including diabetes, heart disease, strokes, high blood pressure and some types of cancer.
Obesity is defined as having a body-mass index of 30 or above. The index is a formula in which a person’s body weight is divided by height squared. A BMI between 25 and 30 is considered overweight.