Thursday, January 22, 2009

Is Obesity Epidemic Being Curbed?

Diabetes, heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), arthritis, certain types of cancer and other conditions are closely associated with overweight and obesity. However, while health experts are finding ways and means to combat obesity epidemic, the number of obese American adults has surpassed that of those who are overweight.

Body mass index (BMI), by dividing the weight in kilograms by the square of height in meters, is employed to determine if a person is obese or overweight. A person is classified as overweight if the BMI is between 25 and 29. When BMI reads between 30 and 40, the person is obese. A person with BMI reaching or exceeding 40 is morbidly obese.

For example, a person with a height of 5 feet 5 inches (or 165 cm) will become overweight at 150 pounds (68 kg) and obese at 180 pounds (82 kg). An online BMI calculator provided by the United States National Institute of Health is available at http:

The latest figures reported (Jan 2009) by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), indicated that more than one-third of adults or over 72 million people were obese in 2005-2006. The report also showed that more than 34 percent of Americans are obese, compared to 32.7 percent, who are overweight, and just fewer than 6 percent are extremely obese.

The results were based on a 2005-2006 survey of 4,356 adults over the age of 20, taking part in a regular government survey of health, and these figures are the most current available. The heights and weights of the participants were measured during the physical examination, conducted in mobile examination centers.

The findings in the 1988 – 1994 surveys indicated that 33 percent of Americans were overweight, 22.9 percent were obese and 2.9 percent were morbidly obese. Since then, the numbers have continued to rise steadily.

In fact, in May 2008, CDC also reported that 32 percent of United States children were overweight, 16 percent were obese and 11 percent were extremely obese.

Childhood and adult obesity has been a great concern for the health authorities not only in the United States but also in many countries around the world. Unhealthy lifestyle and dieting habits are being blamed for creating such havoc.

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