Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Over 70m US adults obese

WASHINGTON - MORE than 72 million US adults, or 26.7 per cent, are obese, up 1 percentage point in two years, the US government reported on Tuesday.

Obesity has become 'a major public health threat' and is steadily worsening, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention reported. 'We need intensive, comprehensive and ongoing efforts to address obesity,' CDC director Dr Thomas Frieden said in a statement.

'If we don't more people will get sick and die from obesity-related conditions such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of death.'

The CDC examined data from the national Behavioural Risk Factor Surveillance System, which surveys 400,000 people and asks about height and weight, among other things. Looking state-by-state, the CDC found that 30 per cent of adults in nine states are now obese. In 2000, no states reported obesity rates of 30 per cent or more.

Height and weight are used to calculate body mass index or BMI, the medically accepted way to measure obesity. A BMI of 25 or more makes someone overweight and obesity begins at a BMI of 30. A 1.625m tall person who weighs 79kg or more or a 1.8m tall person who weighs 95kg or more has a BMI of 30, and is considered obese. The survey found 2.4 million more people admitted to being obese in 2009 than in 2007, a 1.1 percentage point increase. And the CDC said this is almost certainly an underestimate, as people often say they are taller and weigh less than they actually do.

'Recent estimates of the annual medical costs of obesity are as high as US$147 billion (S$198.4 billion). On average, persons who are obese have medical costs that are US$1,429 more than persons of normal weight,' the report reads. Blacks were the most likely to be obese, with 36.8 per cent of US black adults having a BMI of 30 or more - more than 41 per cent of black women. More than 30 per cent of Hispanic adults were obese. -- REUTERS

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