US Obesity Statistics

The United States has one of the highest obesity rates in the world with nearly one in six children and more than one in two adults being overweight or obese. Obesity rates are projected to increase in the year 2030 with 47% of Americans projected to be obese in 2030. American children have the highest obesity rate in the world at 12.7%.

US Obesity Statistics

Based on data collected by researchers from CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, 38% of adult Americans were obese as of 2014 which was up from 34% in 2006. This increase was more prevalent among women than men in that period.

Obesity rates also fluctuated based on ethnicity and race. At the lowest end of the spectrum, Asian Americans stood at 13% obese while African-Americans had the highest obesity rates at 48%. Whites stood at 36% and Latinos at 43%.

Age also was a factor in obesity rates. Researchers found that adults between 40 and 50 years were 41% obese compared to 34% of adults in their 20s and 30s and at 39% for adults older than 60 years.

In children, statistics show that the younger the child, the lower the risk of obesity. 9% of children aged between 2 and 5 years were obese compared with 18% aged between 6 and 11 and 21% of teens aged between 12 and 19 years. Ethnicity also contributed significantly to the rate of obesity in children with Asian American children and Latino children at higher risks of obesity at 43% and 48% respectively. For Black children, the odds for obesity were at 34%.

Parent’s education also seems to play role in obesity rates with families where a parent or guardian is a high school dropout at 41% more likely to be obese whereas a parent or guardian with only a high school diploma is 61% more likely to be obese.

The obesity epidemic in America is now three decades old and despite the many studies to understand why obesity has continued to worsen, these reasons are still not very clear. Millions of dollars have been poured into research into obesity with the development of new drugs to help treat obesity and clinical trials and observational studies being undertaken to stem the tide.

Despite the huge investments that have been made in developing new programs to counteract obesity, clinical care and new insights in research, there doesn’t seem to be much progress to reverse the trend of obesity in America.

A combination of factors has contributed to increasing rates of obesity. People have gotten lazier about making healthy choices and many states have broken systems such as lack of nutrients in food that affects our metabolism and an obsession with the internet and media that prevents people from eating well, exercising and sleeping adequately.

There are people who are calling for a change though not enough people are paying attention. Former First Lady Michelle Obama had made tackling obesity one of her key initiatives. The current Trump administration has however proposed massive cuts to public and scientific health funding such as healthy school lunch initiatives.

The Bloomberg Philanthropies and billionaire philanthropist Mike Bloomberg are pushing for global policies to reduce the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.

A new approach to manage the obesity epidemic could be to focus on collaborating with the food industry that is partly responsible for promoting what Americans consume in their diets. It is time to figure out how to work with fast food outlets and restaurants that market and promote nutritionally deficient food and adopt policies and legislation that facilitate a nutritional-focus and healthy approach.

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