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You are here : 3-RX.com > Home > Obesity -

Most Americans risk obesity, study finds

ObesityOct 06, 05

A new study that followed Americans for thirty years has found that 90 per cent of men and 70 per cent of women were overweight or became overweight.

In addition, more than one in three were obese or became obese.

The study was supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Researchers analyzed the short-term and long-term chances of developing overweight and obesity among more than 4,000 white adults in Framingham, Massachusetts. Participants were between the ages of 30 and 59 at the start, and were examined every four years.

The findings appear in the October issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

“National surveys and other studies have told us that the US has a major weight problem, but this study suggests that we could have an even more serious degree of overweight and obesity over the next few decades,” said NHLBI director Elizabeth Nabel.

“In addition, these results may underestimate the risk for some ethnic groups.”

Framingham participants were white, and other studies have shown, for example, that Hispanic and black individuals, especially women, have a greater prevalence of excess weight compared to their white counterparts.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 65 per cent of US adults aged 20 years and older are either overweight or obese, and approximately 30 per cent of adults are obese.

Framingham researchers assessed the participants’ body mass index (BMI) - a standard measure of weight relative to height, which is an indicator of total body fat. A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 kg/m2 is considered a normal, or healthy, weight for adults. Overweight is a BMI of 25 to 29.9 kg/m2, and obesity is a BMI of 30 kg/m2 or higher.

Making it to middle age without extra pounds was no guarantee for staying at a healthy weight - even in the short term. About one in five women and one in four men who were at a healthy BMI at a routine Framingham study examination became overweight after four years. Among those who were overweight, 16 to 23 per cent of women and 12 to 13 per cent of men became obese within four years.

Overweight increases the likelihood of developing diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, stroke, breathing problems such as asthma and sleep apnea, some cancers, osteoarthritis, and gall bladder disease.

Obesity is associated with these conditions as well as with early death. Research has shown that even a small weight loss (just 10 per cent of body weight) can help people who are overweight or obese lower their risk of developing many of these conditions.

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