C.D.C.: More Americans report being obese

by Bryan Salvage
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WASHINGTON ― Despite the fact that many meat and poultry companies and businesses in the remaining segments of the food industry have increased offering leaner and lower-calorie products in recent years, obesity remains on the rise, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Between 2005 and 2007, the proportion of U.S. adults who self-reported they were obese increased nearly 2%, according to an article in a recent "Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report." An estimated 25.6% of U.S. adults reported being obese in 2007 compared to 23.9% in 2005, an increase of 1.7%.

The report also found that none of the 50 states or the District of Columbia has achieved the Healthy People 2010 goal to reduce obesity prevalence to 15%or less.

In Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee, the prevalence of self-reported obesity among adults age 18 or older was above 30%. Colorado had the lowest obesity prevalence at 18.7%. Obesity is defined as a body mass index of 30 or above. B.M.I. is calculated using height and weight. For example, a 5-foot 9-inch adult who weighs 203 lbs would have a B.M.I. of 30, thus putting this person into the obese category.

The data were derived from the C.D.C.′s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a state-based telephone survey that collects information from adults aged 18 years and older. For this survey more than 350,000 adults are interviewed each year, making the B.R.F.S.S. the largest telephone health survey in the world. B.M.I. was calculated based on this self-reported information.

"The epidemic of adult obesity continues to rise in the United States indicating that we need to step up our efforts at the national, state and local levels," said Dr. William Dietz, director of the C.D.C.’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity. "We need to encourage people to eat more fruits and vegetables, engage in more physical activity and reduce the consumption of high calorie foods and sugar-sweetened beverages in order to maintain a healthy weight."

The study found that obesity is more prominent in the South, where 27% of respondents were classified as obese. The percentage of obese adults was 25.3% in the Midwest, 23.3% in the Northeast, and 22.1% in the West.

By age, the prevalence of obesity ranged from 19.1% for men and women aged 19-29 years to 31.7% and 30.2%, respectively, for men and women aged 50-59 years.

"Obesity is a major risk factor for a number of chronic diseases such as type-2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke," said Deb Galuska, associate director for science for the C.D.C.′s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity. "These diseases can be very costly for states and the country as a whole."

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