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Researchers Report U.S. Obesity Epidemic Getting Worse

Only 25 percent of men and 33 percent of women at a healthy weight, researchers say

MONDAY, June 22, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- About 35 percent of men and 37 percent of women are obese, while 40 percent of men and 30 percent of women are overweight, according to a research letter published online June 22 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Lin Yang, Ph.D., and Graham A. Colditz, M.D., Dr.P.H., of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, examined data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey gathered between 2007 and 2012, involving 15,208 men and women age 25 and older.

Based on the data, the researchers estimate that more than 36 million men and nearly 29 million women in the United States are currently overweight. About 32 million men and 36 million women are obese. More Americans are overweight and obese today compared with federal survey data gathered between 1988 and 1994, Yang told HealthDay. Back then, 63 percent of men and 55 percent of women were either overweight or obese, with a body mass index of 25 kg/m² or greater. Today, around 75 percent of men and about 67 percent of women are either overweight or obese, according to the study.

"This generation of Americans is the first that will have a shorter life expectancy than the previous generation, and obesity is one of the biggest contributors to this shortened life expectancy because it is driving a lot of chronic health conditions," Yang said.

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