America is not making progress in lowering overall obesity rates, and women are losing ground, according to two studies published in June's issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
"The news is neither good nor surprising," Jody Zylke and Howard Bauchner wrote in a JAMA editorial. "These articles join a number of other recent reports that highlight the unrelenting challenge of obesity."
The adult study measured the prevalence of obesity and class three obesity in a sample of 13,000 men and 13,000 women between 2005 and 2014. The age-adjusted prevalence of obesity was 35 percent among men and 40 percent among women in 2013-2014, according to the study. Obesity was defined as a body mass index of equal to or greater than 30, and class three obesity was defined as a body mass index equal to or greater than 40.
"No significant trends" in obesity were observed between 2005 and 2014 for American men, which had a 5.5 percent rate of class three obesity. For women, the prevalence of overall obesity in 2013-2014 and class three obesity (9.9 percent) showed "significant linear trends for increase" between 2005 and 2014.
"It's important to monitor trends in obesity because obesity is related to many health conditions, including diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease, just to name a few," Cynthia Ogden, the lead author of the adult study, said in a video. "The next steps in this research are to really dig down and find out why we're seeing some of the trends we're seeing."
A separate study examined obesity and extreme obesity rates of children and adolescents between the ages of two and 19. The study examined data for the period between 1988-1994 and 2013-2014. The prevalence of obesity between 2011 and 2014 was 17 percent, and extreme obesity was 5.8 percent, according to the study. Previous analysis of obesity trends among children and adolescents showed an increase between 1988-1994 and 1999-2000, but no change between 2003-2004 and 2011-2012, except for a "significant decline" among children between the ages of two and five, according to the study.
The JAMA editorial acknowledged the hundreds of millions of dollars spent by numerous foundations, industries, government and other groups to combat obesity in America. It also noted the importance that various groups have placed on exercise, better dietary choices and nutritional labeling of foods.
"Although it is impossible to know what the extent of the obesity epidemic would have been without these efforts, the data reported [in the two studies] certainly do not suggest much success," the editorial stated.