Wednesday, September 05, 2018

The Shocking Rise in Obesity

Something is is not right with this picture. Since the early 1960s, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, the percentage of Americans aged 20 to 74 who are obese has climbed from just 13 percent to fully 40 percent. If obesity were an infectious disease, the nation would be in a panic and demanding a cure.  

Percent of people aged 20 to 74 who are obese
2015–16: 40.0%
2009–10: 36.1%
1999–00: 30.9%
1976–80: 15.0%
1960–62: 13.4%

These figures are based on the measured heights and weights of nationally representative samples of Americans. Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) at or above 30 kg/m².

Both men and women have succumbed to obesity. Among men aged 20 to 74, the percentage who are obese climbed from 10.7 percent in 1960–62 to 38.3 percent in 2015–16. For women, the comparable figures are 15.8 and 41.6 percent. By age, the NCHS provides trends only back to 1988–94. Here are the numbers...

Obesity among people aged 20 to 39
2015–16: 35.7%
1988–94: 17.7%

Obesity among people aged 40 to 59
2015–16: 42.8%
1988–94: 27.9%

Obesity among people aged 60-plus
2015–16: 41.0%
1988–94: 23.7%

Interestingly, the percentage of Americans who are simply overweight and not obese has not increased over the years—31.5 percent in 1960–62, and 31.0 percent in 2015–16. 

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