Obesity Rates: How Do You Spell Up?

We’ve been bombarded lately with so many reports celebrating “progress” against obesity rates — particularly in childhood obesity — that this week’s new, detailed analysis of adult obesity rates in the U.S. is a bit of a jolt to people who have been listening to all the happy talk. This report tells a story of adult rates that are up, particularly among non-Hispanic black women with class 3 (extreme) obesity.

The fact that more adults now have obesity than overweight is getting a lot of attention.

This news should not be a surprise to anyone. Folks who have studied the dynamics of the unfolding obesity epidemic have said for some time that we are approaching the limit of how many people are susceptible to overweight and obesity. In other words, just about everyone who is susceptible has already started gaining excess weight.

Adult Obesity RatesSo overall rates are not increasing as fast, but people who are susceptible are progressing from overweight to increasingly severe stages of obesity. Among non-Hispanic black women, the rate of class 3 obesity now stands at more than 17%.

With so many self-serving reports of progress, the surprise at hearing this week’s news is understandable. The study’s authors are calling for action by physicians to both “prevent and treat obesity” utilizing the evidence-based tools we have.

But the real gap is in our fundamental knowledge of this disease and effective ways to reverse the trend. We need a much bolder research agenda to fill the gap. Only by pursuing such an agenda will we be able to actually reverse these trends.

Click here to read more in the Washington Post and here to read the study.

Up, photograph © Mikel Ortega / flickr

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2 Responses to “Obesity Rates: How Do You Spell Up?”

  1. June 24, 2015 at 7:17 am, Joe Gitchell said:

    Ted – this is tough–balance between hope (happy talk) and reality (this is really tough). Humans don’t much care for “we have to work harder and do things differently” (see climate weirding caused by carbon fuels, race, etc.).

    But not sure that we have a choice! Lead on!


    • June 24, 2015 at 9:37 am, Ted said:

      I know you’re right, Joe. People just glaze over when you tell them it’s complex.

      Make believe doesn’t work on real problems, though. Scientific inquiry does.

      All it takes is curiosity and integrity.