Obesity in the US is at record high as Americans continue to pile on the pounds. According to a new report by the federal health officials, the number of obese adults in the U.S. had increased sharply over the past decade and reached almost 40 per cent in 2016.
With the increase in severe obesity across the country, comes the danger of various cardiovascular diseases, cancers and diabetes, which aren’t just increasing the medical expenses but also slashing the life expectancy of an average American. The data, which was published on Friday in JAMA, revealed that almost 8 per cent of the people in the US were severely obese.
America is Getting Fatter
The data from the federal health officials – which was gathered over a large-scale, gold-standard research – has observed change in weights and obesity trends of the Americans from 2007 to 2016. The study used BMI values to determine obesity trends: adults with BMI of 30 or higher were counted as obese whereas those with BMI of 40 or above were considered severely obese.
At the beginning of the survey, the average rate of severe obesity in the country was almost 6 per cent – almost 33 per cent lower than it is today. The average obesity rate was also down at 33.7 per cent in 2007, giving conclusive evidence that the American waistlines have expanded considerably within the past few years due to poor eating and lifestyle habits.
Researchers and health experts have expressed concern over the recent data saying that the alarming numbers show that the amount of time and money spent on educating individuals about making better health choices don’t seem to be working. It’s about time that the government take more drastic measures to decelerate the dangerous trend.
Growing Fast Food Trend
It’s no secret that overeating, lack of physical activity and poor food choices lead to weight gain but simply educating people about the harmful effects of bad diet is not enough to prevent them from walking into the nearest McDonald’s and getting a cheeseburger for lunch. Reports have already shown that the food industry is fighting back against public awareness efforts by cranking up its marketing games and putting out enticing offers and promotions that most consumers can’t say no to.
Although it isn’t clear exactly what is causing the weight gain in American adults, researchers are speculating that a number of factors including genetics and lifestyle could play a role – but the biggest factor has to be the growing fast food and takeout trend which is taking the country down a dangerous road of obesity and diseases.
According to Euromonitor’s reports, in the past five years alone, the fast food sales have grown by 23 per cent whereas packaged food sales have seen a 9 per cent rise. Now, after recent negotiations during the NAFTA agreement, the food companies managed to win the support of Trump administration in limiting nutrition labels on food packaging across US, Canada, and Mexico so that less people see the warning about the fat, sugar and sodium content in junk foods.
A Silver Lining
But not all hope is lost. Many promising surveys are showing that the younger generation is moving towards a healthier food and lifestyle trend with only 18.5 per cent of youngsters from the age of 2 to 19 reported as obese and 5.6 per cent as severely obese. The statistics showed that figures rose only slightly between 2007 and 2008 but the increase was too small to be considered significant.
Dr. Craig Hales, the author of the recent research says that apart from the slight increase in average weight in 2007 which could have been caused by a sampling error, American youngsters have shown no change in the obesity trends over the past decade. However, the trend is not consistent across all age groups. One group of youngsters from the age of 2 to 5, has seen a significant weight gain over the past decade with the numbers rising from 10.1 per cent in 2007 to 14 per cent in 2016.
Other scholars aren’t sure if the obesity trend in young children has leveled off or is still increasing at a steady rate. Most of them think that public health efforts haven’t managed to turn the tide yet and more drastic measures need to be taken in order to make a significant change.