Adult obesity rates in the U.S. continue to climb

Over the past decade the rates of American adults with obesity have continued to increase according to researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In the years between 2007-2008 and 2015-2016, the report says the rates of obesity in adults in the U.S. rose significantly, from 33.7% to 39.6%. Moreover, the rates of severe obesity increased during this time from 5.7% to 7.7%. The CDC report was published online March 23, 2018 as a research letter in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The CDC’s report defines obesity as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater and defines severe obesity as having a BMI of 40 or greater. As an example, an adult who is 5’ 9” tall and weighs 203 pounds has a BMI of 30. An adult who is 5’ 9” tall and weighs 271 pounds has a BMI of 40. According to the CDC, a healthy weight for an adult this height is between 125 and 168 pounds.

This new report also shows an overall trend toward a slight increase in obesity rates among youth ages 2 to 19, but this increase is not steep enough to be statistically significant.

The researchers made these study calculations using data from 27,449 adults and 16,875 youth enrolled in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Cancer and obesity

People with obesity have a significantly higher risk than people of healthy weight to develop many serious diseases and health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.

The factor of being overweight is clearly linked with cancers of the breast (in women past menopause), colon and rectum, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, and pancreas. Beyond that there is also evidence that excess weight may contribute to cancers of the gallbladder, liver, cervix, and ovary, as well as non-Hodgkin lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and aggressive forms of prostate cancer. Studies have shown that excess body weight is thought to be responsible for about 8% of all cancers in the United States, as well as about 7% of all cancer deaths.

But people need not despair. Even a small weight loss – for instance, 10% of your current weight – lowers the risk of several diseases.

The American Cancer Society recommends that people try to get to and stay at a healthy weight throughout life by eating a healthy diet and by getting plenty of physical activity. A healthy diet can include vegetables and fruits, whole grains, beans, and lower calorie beverages. It is recommended that people limit high-calorie foods, between-meal snacks, and added sugars.

It is also recommended that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week (or a combination of these), preferably spread throughout the week. All children and teens should get at least 1 hour of moderate or vigorous intensity activity each day, with vigorous activity on at least 3 days each week. Moderate activity is about the level of a brisk walk, while vigorous activity is defined by exercise that increases your breathing and heart rate, and makes you sweat.

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