Tuesday, August 11, 2020
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Obesity rates in the US continue to rise

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a disturbing but predictable statistic today: More American adults are obese, according to their body mass index, than have ever been. In addition, childhood obesity rates hit a new high, the Los Angeles Times reports.

  • Obesity rate (adults): 39.8% in 2015-2016, up from 30.5% in 1999-2000
  • Obesity rate (children 2–19): 18% in 2015-2016, up from 13.9% in 1999-2000

If we go all the way back to 1976-1980, the same national survey used to determine the above rates showed that about 15 percent of adults and 5½ pecent of children qualified as obese. Obesity is defined by one’s body mass index, a function of mass (m) and height (h).

\textrm{BMI} = \frac{m}{h^2}

In the formula above, weight (mass) is given in kilograms, and height in meters. The National Institutes of Health has an online tool that allows you to enter your height in feet and inches and your weight in pounds to determine your BMI.

For example, a 6-foot man (1.829 m) weighing 180 pounds (81.6 kg) would have a BMI of 24.4 kg/m2. That would be considered within the normal body weight range. If the number is 30 or higher, you would be considered obese. (A BMI of between 25 and 29.9 indicates you’re “overweight,” which still puts you at an increased risk of developing certain diseases, especially heart disease, and other medical conditions, but technically, not obese.)

If you’re obese, it would be recommended that you lose weight, under a doctor’s care. But, “The good news is even a small weight loss (between 5 and 10 percent of your current weight) will help lower your risk of developing those diseases,” the NIH writes on its website.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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