The CDC published a sobering article in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report on September 15 on the prevalence of obesity among U.S. adults in 2005. According to a new analysis of data from the 1995, 2000, and 2005 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) surveys, in 2005 a startling 23.9% of all U.S. adults were obese (BMI greater than or equal to 30), up from 15.3% in 1995. In addition, 3.0% were extremely obese (BMI greater than or equal to 40) and 60.5% were overweight (BMI greater than or equal to 25). This high proportion of overweight is particularly notable in light of a recent set of articles published in the August 24th issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, which showed that both overweight and obesity are associated with an increased risk of death, not just obesity.
Obesity increased in all fifty states between 1995 and 2005. The 2005 prevalence varied from 17.4% to 30.3% between states, with the highest numbers in the southern states. Prevalence was slightly higher in men (24.2%) than in women (23.5%). By race/ethnicity, non-Hispanic whites had a relatively lower prevalence rate of 22.6%; for non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics the rates were 33.9% and 26.5% respectively. All other minorities had a composite prevalence rate of 16.0%.
Obesity was highest in middle-aged groups; prevalence was 17.4% in adults aged 18-29 yrs, 24.4% in adults aged 30-39 yrs, 26.5% in adults aged 40-49 yrs, 29.5% in adults aged 50-59 yrs, 28.1% in adults aged 60-69 yrs, and 18.3% in adults aged over 70 yrs. Though the prevalence is lowest for the youngest age group, it's significant to note that this was also the age group that saw the largest increase in prevalence from 1995 -- from 10.2% to 17.4%. This is appalling news; obese young adults are at very high risk of developing early type 2 diabetes and will live with the disease for as many years as what we traditionally associate with type 1 diabetes. The earlier they develop type 2 diabetes, the higher as well their risk of early complications and decreased life span.