Obesity Trends: Up, Down, and Sideways
If you’re confused about obesity trends, don’t feel bad. Epidemiologists from the CDC published quite a bit of new data in JAMA this week and you can find a wide range of trends in these publications. Just fish around in the numbers and you’re bound to find something you like.
If you want a happy story, you can go with the story that obesity in children between the ages of two and five is dropping. CDC is sticking with that story, but it’s not resonating in the media. Just a few weeks ago, Asheley Skinner, Eliana Perrin, and Joseph Skelton analyzed the same data and reported finding no support for a declining trend. Maybe that’s why the media didn’t go for the story of a decline in early childhood obesity this time.
Are you looking for stability? Then look at the trends for men. Nothing significant has happened – up or down – since 2005. Among children between six and eleven years old, the trend seems to have leveled off.
Are you looking for a troubling rise? The trend is up for women to a new high: a 40% prevalence. It’s also up for adolescents. More troubling still is the rate of severe obesity, which is growing for women and children, but not men.
Looking at this jumble of trends in obesity, we are reminded how little has really changed in the dismal dynamics of obesity over the last five years. The words of Susan and Jack Yanovski in a 2011 commentary still ring true:
“Regardless of the current trends in obesity prevalence, we are in trouble.”
Click here to read the study of childhood obesity trends and here for adult obesity trends. Click here and here for two companion commentaries. Click here for perspective from Stat and here for perspective from the LA Times.
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June 10, 2016