U.S. obesity rate appears to be slowing: study

Wed Jan 13, 2010 11:10am EST
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By Julie Steenhuysen

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Americans are still too fat, but the obesity epidemic in the United States appears to be waning a bit, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday.

New government data show that 68 percent of U.S. adults are considered overweight, having a body mass index or BMI of 25 or higher. A third are obese, having a body mass index of 30 or higher.

"Obesity continues to be a significant health concern," Cynthia Ogden of the National Center for Health Statistics at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a telephone interview.

Additionally, around 17 percent of children and adolescents aged 2 to 19 were considered obese.

BMI is equal to weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared. A person 5 feet 5 inches tall is classified as overweight at 150 pounds (68 kg) and obese at 180 pounds (82 kg).

Obesity-related diseases account for nearly 10 percent of medical spending in the United States or an estimated $147 billion a year. Being overweight or obese raises the risk of heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, arthritis and other conditions.

In the past several decades, obesity rates climbed fast. The number of adults who were overweight or obese rose 8 percentage points in the 1988-1994 survey period compared with the 1976-1980 survey. Obesity rates were relatively stable between 1960 and 1980.


<p>Pedestrians walk across the street near Times Square in New York in this August 28 2007 file photo. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/Files</p>