According to a recently released report the prevalence of obesity in the United States seems to have plateaued. Cynthia L. Ogden, Ph.D, an epidemiologist with the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics and the leading author of the report compiled the data from 2009-2010 using the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The survey measured the height and weight of almost 6,000 men and women and calculated their Body Mass Index to determine if they were obese.
Ogden and her team found that from 2009-2010, 35.5% of American men and 35.8% of American women were obese, with African-American and Mexican-American men and women having higher rates of obesity than white Americans. Obesity was more common among teens than preschool aged children and among boys than girls.
So what do all these numbers mean?
Well according to Ogden “There’s been no change in the prevalence of obesity in recent years in children or adults. But I think looking over the last decade, it’s interesting to see how the prevalence of obesity in men has caught up with the prevalence of obesity in women.”
Could this plateau mean that America is heading towards the healthy side?
Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice, Dean of the School of Medicine and Executive Vice President of Morehouse College believes that news of this plateau is great news, but cautions that more work to combat obesity and its effects needs to be done.
Dr. Rice told CNN Health:
“This is a good news story but this is not the end of the story. We cannot feel good… until we see a decrease in the prevalence of obesity. What I hope doesn’t come out of this study is that we start to think we’ve made some significant improvement and we stop the efforts that have been put forth.”
Dr. Rice has a point and the news of a plateau shouldn’t encourage the return of unhealthy behaviors, but maybe it is a sign that America is finally getting it. Maybe all the calorie counts on our favorite fast foods, reports on the dangers of obesity and the overall push to get Americans to change their lifestyles has finally sunken in and we’re ready to finally get healthy and live longer.
This report definitely brings good news, but only time will show where we go from here.
I don’t think America is ready to get healthly. We have too many fast food resturants and not enough fitness centers. We need to re-educate people on how to eat the right size portions and eat the not so good foods in moderation. I have a challenge American try replacing one meal a week with a whole food diet (fruits, vegetables and whole grain) you might like it.
The question may not be whether they’re ready, but rather can they afford to get healthy? With poor nutritional choices being less expensive on average, the eroding buying power of the middle class may well lead to poorer nutritional choices out of necessity. With all the recent studies on obesity in the western world, are you aware of any that compare demographics and obesity?