Obesity Epidemic Quickly Gaining Ground
Morbid Obesity Increasing Faster Than Obesity, Jumps in Adolescence
WebMD News Archive
Oct. 13, 2003 -- More Americans are not only gaining extra
pounds, but more Americans are also fatter than ever.
New research shows that the number of Americans who are 100
pounds or more overweight and classified as morbidly obese is growing twice as
fast as the number of Americans who fall into the obese category.
And researchers say this trend is likely to continue, as a
related study shows obesity rates are quickly jumping among young adults.
Obesity by the Numbers
Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI, a measure
of weight in relation to height) of 30 or more. Data from
the National Center for Health Statistics indicate that prevalence of obesity
has increased from 12.8% between 1976 and 1980 to 22.5% between 1988 and 1994,
and jumped again to 30% between 1999 and 2000.
But researchers found the rates of severe or morbid obesity
among those with a BMI of 40 or more quadrupled during the same period, from
about one in 200 adult Americans to one in 50. And the prevalence of super
obesity, defined as having a BMI of 50 or more, increased by a factor of five,
from about one in 2,000 to one in 400.
The study, published in the Oct. 13 issue of the Archives of
Internal Medicine, suggests that many doctor's offices and hospitals may
face special challenges in trying to accommodate these heavier patients.
Severely obese people face more health problems then obese
people, but they may not fit standard imaging equipment, operating tables, or
Obesity Jumps in Adolescence
Another study presented this week at the North American
Association for the Study of Obesity 2003 Annual Scientific Meeting in Ft.
Lauderdale, Fla., shows that more than two million American adolescents became
obese and another 1.5 remained obese as they grew into adulthood from 1996 to
"At the beginning, 11% of the teens studied were obese, and
as they aged and became young adults, 22% were obese," says researcher
Penny Gordon-Larsen, assistant professor of nutrition at the University of
North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in a news release.
Researchers surveyed a nationwide sample of 9,561 teens in 1996
and again five years later when they were ages 18 to 26 and found older
adolescents were more likely to become or remain obese than their younger
The study also showed that minorities had particularly high
rates of obesity. Researchers found that more than 18% of black females and 14%
of males, and 15% of Hispanic females became obese during the study period.