Nearly 40 percent of American adults and 20 percent of youth now have an obese body mass index (BMI), according to new study data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Both are historically high figures.
Since 1999, adult and youth obesity has risen 30 percent and 33 percent, respectively, showing "no signs" of slowing, according to the study's lead researcher, Dr. Craig Hales, medical epidemiologist at the CDC. Long-term efforts to combat obesity-related diseases may also be in jeopardy. One in 10 preschoolers (ages 2-5), one in five children (ages 6-11) and one in five adolescents (ages 12-19) are now considered obese, not just overweight.
Among adults, 35.7 percent of young adults (ages 20-39), 42.8 percent of middle-aged adults (40-59) and 41 percent of older adults (60 and over) are now obese. Although there were marginal differences between males and females, obesity rates are currently higher among non-Hispanic black and Hispanic adults than among non-Hispanic white and non-Hispanic Asian adults.
More than 70 percent of Americans have a BMI over 25, classifying them as are either overweight or obese (30 and above).
In 2010, the government initiative Healthy People 2020 aimed to lower obesity rates to 14.5 percent among youth and 30.5 percent among adults by 2020. Reaching this goal now seems statistically improbable.
"It's difficult to be optimistic at this point," Dr. Frank Hu, chair of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, told NBC News in an Oct. 13 report. "The trend of obesity has been steadily increasing in both children and adults despite many public health efforts to improve nutrition and physical activity."
This summer, Stanford University researchers used smartphone data to uncover the nuances of "activity inequality" gaps in a study of 717,000 men and women in 111 countries. The study aimed to address physical inactivity as a global pandemic, as it contributes to an estimated 5.3 million deaths per year.