CDC: Adult Obesity Rate Leveling Off but Still a Public Health Concern
New federal data show that the U.S. adult obesity rate dropped to 34.9% in 2012 -- from 35.7% in 2010 -- after several decades of steady growth, but health experts warn that the decline is statistically insignificant and that obesity remains a troubling public health issue, USA Today reports.
The latest data -- which were compiled and released by the National Center for Health Statistics at CDC -- are based on an analysis of information from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which uses height and weight data that was measured and not self-reported. The data do not include obesity rates for children and adolescents (Hellmich, USA Today, 10/17).
According to NCHS, roughly 78 million adults are considered obese, which under NIH guidelines is determined by a body mass index of 30 or more. An individual with a BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight (Ostrow, Bloomberg Businessweek, 10/17).
The NCHS data show that:
- About 50 million of the estimated 78 million obese adults are non-Hispanic white;
- 36.1% of women were obese in 2012, up from 35.8% in 2010;
- 33.5% of men were obese in 2012, down from 35.5% in 2010;
- Obesity levels are higher among middle-age adults, with 39.5% being obese, compared with 30.3% of younger adults and 35.4% of older adults;
- Black and Hispanic adults have higher obesity rates -- at 47.8% and 44.4%, respectively -- than white adults, at 32.6%; and
- Asian adults have the lowest obesity rate at 10.8% (USA Today, 10/17).
According to NCHS Senior Epidemiologist Cynthia Ogden, the report is "confirmation ... that the prevalence of obesity in adults may be leveling off" (Thompson, HealthDay News/Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/17). Still, she noted that the prevalence of obesity is high in the U.S., "but it hasn't changed," adding, "At least it's not going up."
However, public health experts note that obesity is a leading cause for numerous serious medical conditions, such as:
- Heart disease;
- Some cancers;
- Sleep apnea; and
In addition, U.S. residents spend as much as $147 billion annually on obesity-related health care costs (Bloomberg Businessweek, 10/17).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.