First, the good news: According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans, at least as a group, may have reached their peak of obesity. Now the bad news: The plateau might just suggest that weve reached a biological limit to how obese people could get.
Americans, at least as a group, may have reached their peak of obesity, according to data the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Wednesday.
The numbers indicate that obesity rates have remained constant for at least five years among men and for closer to 10 years among women and children long enough for experts to say the percentage of very overweight people has leveled off. But the percentages have topped out at very high numbers. Nearly 34 percent of adults are obese, more than double the percentage 30 years ago. The share of obese children tripled during that time, to 17 percent.
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Some experts, though, were not optimistic that the leveling off was a result of improved eating and exercise habits. Until we see rates improving, not just staying the same, we cant have any confidence that our lifestyle has improved, said Dr. David Ludwig, director of the Optimal Weight for Life Program at Childrens Hospital Boston.
Dr. Ludwig said the plateau might just suggest that weve reached a biological limit to how obese people could get. When people eat more, he said, at first they gain weight; then a growing share of the calories go into maintaining and moving around that excess tissue, he continued, so that a population doesnt keep getting heavier and heavier indefinitely. Furthermore, Dr. Ludwig said, it could be that most of the people who are genetically susceptible, or susceptible for psychological or behavioral reasons, have already become obese.
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