June 22, 2015
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Increase in overweight, obese population over past 20 years

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The prevalence of obese and overweight adults has increased significantly since 1994, according to recently published data in JAMA Internal Medicine.

“The rising trends in overweight and obesity warrant timely attention from health policy and health care system decision makers,” Lin Yang, PhD, and Graham A. Colditz, MD, DrPH, of the department of surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, wrote.

To update the previous analysis of overweight and obesity in the U.S. by age, sex and ethnicity by Must and colleagues, Yang and Colditz analyzed data from the 2007-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Results demonstrated that 39.96% of men, and 29.74% of women aged 25 years and older were overweight compared with 42% of men and 28% of women in 1994. The prevalence of obesity also increased, with 35.04% of men and 36.84% of women being obese, rising greatly from the 21% of men and 27% of women in 1994.

Overall, weight trends were similar among all races, with the exception of black women, who had the greatest increase in overweight and obesity. Additionally, white women were more likely to be of normal weight than overweight. 

The researchers warned that current trends for screening only high-risk individuals for chronic diseases associated with weight may put individuals of normal weight at risk of being undiagnosed.

“Population-based strategies helping to reduce modifiable risk factors such as physical environment interventions, enhancing primary care efforts to prevent and treat obesity, and altering societal norms of behavior are required,” Yang and Colditz wrote. – by Casey Hower

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.