American Adults Just Keep Getting Fatter

Public health experts say that they are alarmed by the continuing rise in obesity among U.S. adults and by the fact that efforts to educate people about the health risks of a poor diet do not seem to be working. (Mark Lennihan, AP file photo)
Public health experts say that they are alarmed by the continuing rise in obesity among U.S. adults and by the fact that efforts to educate people about the health risks of a poor diet do not seem to be working. (Mark Lennihan, AP file photo)

U.S. adults continue to put on the pounds. New data show that nearly 40 percent of them were obese in 2015 and 2016, a sharp increase from a decade earlier, federal health officials reported Friday.

The prevalence of severe obesity in U.S. adults is also rising, heightening their risks of developing heart disease, diabetes and various cancers. According to the latest data, published Friday in JAMA, 7.7 percent of U.S. adults were severely obese in the same period.

The data – gathered in a large-scale federal survey that is considered the gold standard for health data – measured trends in obesity from 2015 and 2016 back to 2007 and 2008, when 5.7 percent of U.S. adults were severely obese and 33.7 percent were obese. The survey counted people with a body mass index of 30 or more as obese, and those with a BMI of 40 or more as severely obese.

Public health experts said that they were alarmed by the continuing rise in obesity among adults and by the fact that efforts to educate people about the health risks of a poor diet do not seem to be working.

“Most people know that being overweight or obese is unhealthy, and if you eat too much that contributes to being overweight,” said Dr. James Krieger, clinical professor of medicine at the University of Washington and executive director of Healthy Food America, an advocacy group. “But just telling people there’s a problem doesn’t solve it.”

The latest data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey come at a time when the food industry is pushing back against stronger public health measures aimed at combating obesity.

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SOURCE: MATT RICHTEL AND ANDREW JACOBS
New York Times News Service