Obesity Statistics

Obese woman
Know the difference between overweight and obesity.

The current obesity statistics for Americans may shock you. Obesity has reached epidemic proportions, threatening the health and life expectancy of millions of people. These sobering figures show how inactivity and overeating can set a person up for a lifetime of chronic health conditions.

Definition of Obesity

The medical field makes a definite distinction between being merely overweight and being obese. According to MayoClinic.com, a person is considered obese if their body mass index (BMI) measures 30 or higher. You can calculate your BMI by multiplying your weight by 703. Divide this figure by your height in inches squared. The Weight Control Information Network estimates that over one-third of Americans have a BMI greater than 30.

Causes of Obesity

Inactivity remains the primary cause of obesity. Inactivity could just be a personal choice. You don't feel like exercising, so you don't. Circumstances such a full-time job with a lengthy commute may leave you with little time to fit in activity of any kind.

Unfortunately, this sedentary lifestyle creates a scenario where overcoming obesity becomes more difficult. Your inactivity causes your muscles to atrophy. When you do exercise, it hurts. Exercise becomes more of a chore, causing you to continually put it off.

Child Obesity

While it may not seem out of line to become more inactive as you age, the obesity statistics for children show some alarming trends. The National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion reports that obesity in children has increased over 300 percent in the last 30 years.

Over 18 percent of adolescents aged 12 to 19 years of age are obese. Obesity statistics for children aged 6 to 11 years of age are equally as disturbing, with over 19 percent obese. These figures portend higher rates of heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions to say nothing of the social and psychological problems these children will likely experience.

Contributing Factors

Reports by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may provide clues to the underlying factors contributing to childhood obesity statistics. A 2010 report in their online journal, Preventing Chronic Disease, found that community parks were an effective way to get children and families active.However, another 2010 study estimated that only 1 in 5 children have access to a park within a half-mile of their homes. This fact sets up a barrier to activity, leading children down a path to obesity.

Factors in Obesity Statistics

If you look at other figures, you may see some correlations between obesity and other aspects of the American lifestyle. One such trend is portion size. The portion sizes of many common food items have increased dramatically over the years, coinciding with changes in obesity statistics.

The size of hamburgers, snack foods, and restaurant meals has increased as have soft drink servings and alcoholic beverages. An adequate 13-ounce serving of pop in 1977 now is 20 ounces, an increase of over 50 percent. In 1976, the obesity rate was 15 percent. Compare that to the over 30 percent today.

Reversing the Statistics

Clearly, a major turnaround needs to occur. This places the ephasis on diet and fitness in order to reverse the current health trends. If you have ever tried to lose a few pounds, you know how difficult it can be. Now imagine having to lose 40 or more pounds in order to get to a healthy BMI.

The recommendations for weight loss are 1 to 2 pounds per week. To drop those 40 pounds, you will have to work at it over five months to lose it safely. The road to a healthy lifestyle can be a long and arduous path.

If you are obese, it a good idea to have realistic expectations in order to prevent getting discouraged if you don't see immediate results. Chances are that it took some time to become obese. It will also take time to lose the extra pounds. It requires fierce determination on your part to eliminate yourself from the pool of statistics.

Obesity Statistics