Prevalence of Obesity

Today 97 million Americans, more than one-third of the adult population, are overweight or obese. An estimated 5 to 10 million of those are suffer from morbid obesity.

According to the American Obesity Association, "the prevalence of overweight and obesity is increasing worldwide at an alarming rate in both developing and developed countries. Environmental and behavioral changes brought about by economic development, modernization, and urbanization have been linked to the rise in global obesity. Obesity is increasing in children and adults, and true health consequences may become fully apparent in the near future."

One of the national health objectives for 2010 is to reduce the prevalence of obesity among adults to less than 15 percent. However, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 1999-2000 data for persons age 20 years and over suggest an increase in the proportion of obese adults in the United States, where the estimated age-adjusted prevalence moved upward from a previous level of 23 percent to a new level of approximately 30 percent. Among adults age 20-74 years, the estimated prevalence of obesity (BMI greater than or equal to 30.0) has doubled between NHANES II and NHANES 1999-2000, from approximately 15 percent to an estimated 31 percent.

As Americans are gaining weight in record amounts, they are shunning dieting and becoming increasingly sedentary. And the results are very disturbing: according to government statistics, unhealthy weight has increased at record levels since 1980, with upsurges occurring in both men and women, all racial groups, and across the age levels. For this reason, today over a third of the adult U.S. population - 32 million women and 26 million men - are classified as overweight or obese.

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