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US obesity rates

No significant change in US obesity rates

Prevalence of obesity among children two to five years of age decreased from 14% in 2003-2004 to just over 8% in 2011-2012

The prevalence of obesity remains high in the U.S., with about one-third of adults and 17 percent of children and teens obese in 2011-2012, according to a national survey study, Prevalence of obesity among adults: United States, 2011-2012., published in JAMA.

Two previous articles published by the authors in JAMA in 2012 demonstrated that the prevalence of obesity levelled off between 2003-2004 and 2009-2010, but "given the focus of public health efforts on obesity, surveillance of trends in obesity remains important,” they write.

Dr Cynthia L Ogden, and colleagues from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hyattsville, MD, examined trends for childhood and adult obesity among 9,120 persons with measured weights and heights (or recumbent length) in the 2011-2012 nationally representative National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

The prevalence of high weight for recumbent length, a standard measure of weight among infants and toddlers from birth to age two years, was 8.1 percent in 2011-2012, with a difference between boys (5 percent) and girls (11.4 percent). For youth (2- to 19-years of age), 31.8 percent were either overweight or obese, and 16.9 percent were obese.

Among adults, more than two-thirds (68.5 percent) were either overweight or obese, 34.9 percent were obese, and 6.4 percent were extremely obese.

Overall, there was no change from 2003-2004 to 2011-2012 in high weight for recumbent length among infants and toddlers or in obesity in 2- to 19-year-olds or adults. The prevalence of obesity among children two to five years of age decreased from 14 percent in 2003-2004 to just over 8 percent in 2011-2012, and increased in women age 60 years and older, from 31.5 percent to more than 38 percent.

The new CDC study shows that while the overall obesity rate remains unchanged, it is still high, and the authors urge there is a need to continue with surveillance.

In 2013, the CDC reported that only 1 in 5 US adults gets enough exercise. They found only 20% of American adults were meeting both the aerobic and muscle-strengthening components of the physical activity guidelines issued by the federal government.

Among non-Hispanic black adults, however, 56.6% of women were obese compared with 37.1% of men. In 2011-2012, the prevalence of obesity was higher among non-Hispanic black (47.8%), Hispanic (42.5%), and non-Hispanic white (32.6%) adults than among non-Hispanic Asian adults (10.8%). The prevalence of obesity among adults did not change between 2009-2010 and 2011-2012.

“Overall, there have been no significant changes in obesity prevalence in youth or adults between 2003-2004 and 2011-2012,” the authors conclude. “Obesity prevalence remains high and thus it is important to continue surveillance.”

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