U.S. Obesity Rate Ticking Up

According to recent Gallup poll upon which the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index is based, the adult obesity rate in the U.S. thus far in 2013, at 27.1%, is on pace to surpass rates in prior years. It is up from 26.2% in 2012 and much higher than the 25.5% found in 2008.

This uptick in obesity is accompanied by slight declines in the percentage of Americans who are classified as overweight and normal weight. The percentage who are overweight fell to 35.6% so far this year from 36.1% in 2012, while the percentage who are a normal weight slipped to 35.4% from 35.9% in 2012.
Gallup and Healthways began tracking Americans' weight in 2008. The 2013 data are based on more than 84,000 interviews conducted from Jan. 1 through June 20 as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. Gallup uses respondents' self-reported height and weight to calculate body mass index (BMI) scores. Individual BMI values of 30 or above are classified as "obese," 25 to 29.9 are "overweight," 18.5 to 24.9 are "normal weight," and 18.4 or less are "underweight."
The upward trend in obesity thus far in 2013 reverses the lower levels found in 2011 and 2012. One possible reason why obesity has increased is that fewer Americans are exercising frequently, in 2013 compared with 2012. Gallup has found that exercising three days per week for 30 minutes per day is closely linked to having a lower BMI.
The American Medical Association officially recognized obesity as a disease, which could have implications for the way physicians, insurance companies, and the general population perceive and treat it. This decision, although controversial, could bring new resources to help with this significant public health problem, which affects more Americans now than it has at any time in the past five years. By classifying obesity as a disease, physicians may be more comfortable addressing the problem of obesity with their patients. At the same time, it could encourage more Americans to rely on complex and expensive medical procedures and treatments, rather than taking steps to lower their weight through exercise, healthy eating, and other lifestyle changes.
The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index tracks well-being in the U.S. and provides best-in-class solutions for a healthier world. To learn more, please visit well-beingindex.com.
Sue Hodge

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