America: “Do I still look fat?” CDC: “Yes. Yes, you do”

Like Tim Allen in The Santa Clause, Americans keep gaining weight in spite of a decade-long effort to raise awareness of obesity and its inherent dangers, including involvement by First Lady Michelle Obama. It’s almost as if while Uncle Sam was driving across town the Statue of Liberty – who was riding shotgun – distracted him and caused him to run over an old gypsy. Then the gypsy woman’s even older gypsy father put a curse on him, but instead of ‘thinner’ the gypsy whispered ‘fatter.’ It’s all included – though less fantastically of course – in the Prevalence of Obesity Among Adults and Youth: United States, 2011–2014 report released Thursday, Oct. 12th by the CDC.

Approximately 38% of adults in the United States were overweight in 2013-14, up from 35% in 2011-12. Statistically speaking, the former increase is small enough to be insignificant, but try telling your wife that when her favorite jeans no longer fit her. Just pray she doesn’t think of trying on her dress from your wedding 10 years ago – when only 32% of adults were obese. “The trend is very unfortunate and very disappointing,” professor in the department of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University Marion Nestle said. “Everybody was hoping that with the decline in sugar and soda consumption, that we’d start seeing a leveling off of adult obesity.”

The key report findings, based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, included the following:

·         The prevalence of obesity was just over 36% in adults and 17% in youth between 2011 and 2014.    

·         Obesity was more prevalent in women (38.3%) than in men (34.3%). Among all youth, no difference was seen by sex.    

·         Obesity was more prevalent among middle-aged (40.2%) and older (37.0%) adults than younger (32.3%) adults.    

·         Obesity was higher more prevalent among non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, and Hispanic adults and youth than among non-Hispanic Asian adults and youth.    

·         From 1999 through 2014, obesity prevalence increased among adults and youth. However, among youth, prevalence did not change from 2003–2004 through 2013–2014.

One might tempted to interpret these findings as saying that men are better off than women, and the young better off than the old. But the fact remains that obesity does not discriminate age or gender. Just the other day a study was released showing that signs of obesity-related heart disease have been found in children as young as 8 years old. “Where there is a high prevalence of obesity, there are high rates of preventable chronic disease” such as cancer, stroke, diabetes, dementia and arthritis, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, in New Haven Dr. David Katz said.

Medical experts had hoped that progressively improving Americans’ diet through the years would literally and figuratively tip the scales. Legislators have addressed everything from sugary drinks and trans fats to chain restaurants posting calorie counts and including healthier alternatives in their menus. Those same experts are not at a loss to explain why obesity continues to rise – if ever so slightly. But before we start asking ourselves whether it’s time to crack each other's heads open and feast on the goo inside, Dr. Katz added that encouraging people to eat healthy and exercise may be having a positive effect “but we will not really know if these are working until obesity rates and the rates of related diseases dip decisively. While there is some encouragement in these new data, clearly, we are not there yet.” We would be remiss if we didn’t mention that Discount Medical Supplies has fitness and weight management online medical supplies available.

Related: Can people be healthy and obese?