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U.S. Prevalence of Overweight, Obesity Rises Again

One-third of adults are now obese, although body weight may be leveling off for women

TUESDAY, April 4 (HealthDay News) -- The number of obese and overweight children and teens continues to rise, as does the number of obese men, according to data collected between 1999 and 2004 in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and published in the April 5 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. One in every three adults in the United States is now obese, although there was no increase in obesity in women in the six-year period.

Cynthia L. Ogden, Ph.D., from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and colleagues used height and weight measurements of 3,958 children and adolescents, and 4,431 adults, representative of the U.S. population, to determine the prevalence of overweight and obesity over the time period.

The prevalence of overweight children and teens, defined as being at or above the 95th percentile of sex-specific body mass index (BMI), increased from 13.8 percent to 16 percent for females and from 14 percent to 18.2 percent for males. The prevalence of obese men, defined as a BMI of 30 or higher, increased from 27.5 percent to 31.1 percent with prevalence varying by ethnicity. Thirty percent of whites, 45 percent of blacks, and 36.8 percent of Mexican Americans were marked as obese. Overall, 17.1 percent of children and teens were overweight and 32.2 percent of adults were obese in 2004.

There is little indication that the prevalence is decreasing in any population subgroup. However, these prevalence estimates, based on a six-year period (1999-2004), suggest that the increases in body weight "may be leveling off in women," the authors write.

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