How to Beat America's Obesity Epidemic: Startling Statistics

Posted on November 30, 2015 by Jenna Olson, ACE-CHC

Obesity Rates Among Highest in USObesity

According the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the United States has some of the highest obesity rates in the world:

  • 68% of American adults are overweight—almost 36% are obese
  • 33% of American children are overweight—17% are obese

Obesity Versus Overweight: What's the Difference?

The CDC uses "overweight" and "obesity" as labels for ranges of weight greater than what is generally considered healthy for a given height. The terms also identify ranges of weight shown to increase the likelihood of certain diseases and other health problems.

For adults, overweight and obesity ranges are determined by using weight and height to calculate a number called the "body mass index" (BMI). BMI is used because, for most people, it correlates with their amount of body fat.

  • An adult who has a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight.
  • An adult who has a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese.

The CDC provides online BMI calculators for adults and children. The adult calculator looks at height and weight. The calculator for children and teens uses weight, height, sex and age to create a BMI-for-age-percentile showing how your child's weight compares to children of the same age and sex.

Obesity in Adults

According to Harvard School of Public Health, excess weight, especially obesity, diminishes almost every aspect of health—from reproductive and respiratory function to memory and mood.

  • Obesity increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers (as well as the cost of insurance and medical care).
  • Losing as little as 5 to 10 percent of body weight offers meaningful health benefits to people who are obese, even if they never achieve their "ideal" weight—and even if they only begin to lose weight later in life.

Obesity in Children

There's been a 60% increase in the number of overweight and obese children since 1990. This dramatic increase may be attributed to the fact 30 years ago kids were far more apt to walk to school, home video games were nonexistent, and fast food meals were more the exception than the rule.

Whatever the reason for the increase, childhood obesity poses a major health risk:

  • According to the Harvard School of Public Health, obesity can harm nearly every system in a child's body—from heart and lungs, muscles and bones, kidneys and digestive tract to the hormones to control blood sugar and puberty.
  • The American Heart Association notes childhood obesity is causing a broad range of health problems previously weren't seen until adulthood, including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and elevated blood cholesterol.
  • Excess weight at young ages has been linked to higher and earlier death rates in adulthood.

Concerned About Your Weight?

Call us for help.

If you have questions about a healthy weight for you or someone in your family, we can help. Please call any time of the day or night if you'd like to know more about problems associated with extra weight and obesity, or guidelines for healthy eating and exercise.

EAP members call 800.383.1908
Physicians Wellness Resources members call 877.731.3949

About VITAL WorkLife

VITAL WorkLife, Inc.™ is a national behavioral health consulting company providing support to individuals facing life’s challenges, while also assisting organizations in improving workplace productivity. This approach of helping employees and their families, while also guiding organizations, builds healthy, sustainable behaviors. Visit us at VITALWorkLife.com.

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