CDC Reports Steady Levels of Adult Obesity Since 2003

Surveys taken from 2003 to 2004 and from 2005 to 2006 show no statistically significant increase in the percentage of U.S. adults who were obese, according to a CDC study published online Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times reports (Kaplan/Gellene, Los Angeles Times, 11/29).

For the study, researchers with CDC's National Center for Health Statistics led by epidemiologist Cynthia Ogden examined data gathered by the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey on 4,400 U.S. residents age 20 and older (Stein, Washington Post, 11/29).

According to the report, about 33% of men were obese in 2005 to 2006, compared with 31% in 2003 to 2004. Among women, 35% were obese in 2005 to 2006, compared with 33% in 2003 to 2004. Given the margin of error calculated by the researchers, the changes were not statistically significant.

The obesity rate for males has increased from 27.5% in 1999 to 2000, but the rate for women has not seen much change from 33% in 1999 to 2000 (Stobbe, AP/Detroit Free Press, 11/29). The study also found that adults ages 40 to 59 had the highest rate of obesity. For men, 40% of those 40 to 59 were obese, compared with 28% of men ages 20 to 39 and 32% of those ages 60 and older. For women, 41% of those between 40 and 59 were obese, compared with 30.5% of women ages 20 to 39 and 34% of those older than age 60.

Racial disparities also were shown. In the 40-to-59 age group, 53% of non-Hispanic black women were obese, compared with 51% of Mexican-American women and 39% of white women (Washington Post, 11/29). Among those age 60 and older, 61% of black women were obese, compared with 37% of Mexican-American women and 32% of white women (Los Angeles Times, 11/29).

Reaction

"This is encouraging," Ogden said, adding, "I think we can say that obesity in women is stabilizing, and I'm optimistic that we may be seeing a leveling off in men, as well."

William Dietz of CDC said, "This doesn't show we've turned the corner on obesity, but we might be at the corner." He continued, "The first step in controlling any epidemic is halting a rise in the number of cases, and this suggests that might be happening" (Washington Post, 11/29).

Gary Foster, president of the Obesity Society, said, "Even if there is a leveling off [of obesity rates], we're still left with a staggering public health problem with two-thirds of people in this country overweight or obese" (Hellmich, USA Today, 11/29).

An abstract of the study is available online.


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