Featured Obesity Article


´╗┐What Do The Obesity Statistics Say?

A long, complex study may be necessary for us to really understand obesity statistics. Simply put, humans and other mammals have a natural energy reserve stored in fatty tissue. However, this condition can increase to the point where it becomes a health concern. Basically, we need a certain amount of fat as stored energy and for insulating the body. But too much fat can lead to serious health problems.

This is where obesity statistics come in. Though numbers do not tell the entire story about any subject, setting some standards or guidelines for what makes a human being healthy will give us some idea about how to live our lives. For example, the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta report that excess weight in America has increased to include 60 percent of the population (in the last 20 years). Another report shows that a minimum of one person in three across the country has far too much fatty tissue in their body. Other obesity statistics indicate that more than 60 percent of the American population is overweight, compared to 40 percent in 1987.

How do medical researchers and doctors determine who is obese and who is not? Some numbers are based on the comparison of height with weight. Others measure the amount of fat in the body. The most commonly used method is body mass index (BMI). It is the method most widely used by researchers to set obesity statistics, and is determined by dividing a person's weight by height. For example, a person 60 inches tall who weights 133 pounds has a BMI of 26. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (sections of the National Institutes of Health) identify overweight as a BMI of 25 to 29.9 and obesity as a BMI of 30 or greater.

Using this standard, a national survey conducted a few years ago shows:

1980 - Adults 20-74 years of age - 47 percent overweight, 15 percent obese
1994 - Adults 20-74 years of age - 56 percent overweight, 23 percent obese
2000 - Adults 20-74 years of age - 64 percent overweight, 30 percent obese

The latest obesity statistics indicate that the U.S. population continues to gain weight, with about 31 percent of U.S. citizens now obese (BMI more than 30). Childhood obesity has tripled over the past 20 years, according to national statistics. About 13 percent of 8-year-old children are obese. The number rises to 17 percent for those who are 15 years old. The office of the U.S. Surgeon General emphasizes that morbid obesity contributes to thousands of deaths annually. By comparison, studies show that 46 percent of men in England and 32 percent of women are overweight (BMI 25-30). Obesity statistics indicate that the United States is home to the most overweight and obese people in the world.