California Obesity Rates Spike

September 3rd, 2015 No comments »

California is seeing a huge spike in obesity cases. The UCLA Center for Health Policy Research completed a survey of more than 48,000 Californian adults, teen and children. In the most recent survey, more than one in four California adults were considered obese, about 27% compared to 19% in 2001. This rise comes in the face that another study showed California adults are doing more walking and eating more daily servings of fruits and vegetables. About 9% of respondents said they had been diagnosed with diabetes, compared with 6.6% in 2003. About 39% reported eating fast food at least twice a week in 2014, compared to 37% in 2007. About 31% of California residents living in poverty; less than a quarter of the richest 50% of adults in California were obese. On a typical weekday, 46.5% of children aged 2-11 spend at least 2 hours a day watching TV, playing computer games or talking with friends. On weekends, fully 71% of children engaged in sitting.

What Leveling off in China?

September 3rd, 2015 No comments »

An article in the International Journal of Obesity reports that BMI and overall obesity has been leveling-off but waist circumference and abdominal obesity, which are independent risk factors for cardiovascular disease, have continued to rise. The authors opine that the obesity transition epidemic in rapidly developing countries may be much faster than in Western societies.

De-bunking the ‘leveling off’ of the obesity epidemic

September 3rd, 2015 No comments »

As you are probably aware, several sources have been pointing recently to a levelling off in the obesity epidemic. A new study published in the International Journal of Obesity should raise some doubts. The authors took a deep look at studies purporting to find a leveling off. However, they found, “Decreasing participation rates, the use of reported rather than measured data and small sample sizes, or lack of representativeness, do not seem to explain breaks in the obesity epidemic…However, follow-ups of short duration may, in part, explain the apparent break or decrease in the obesity epidemic. On the other hand,  a single focus on Body Mass Index is likely to mask a real increase in the obesity epidemic. And, in both children and adults, trends in waist circumference were generally suggesting an increase, and were stronger than those reported for trends in BMI…Reported studies presenting a break were mostly of short duration. Further, focusing on trends in waist circumference rather than BMI leads to a less optimistic conclusion: the public health problem of obesity is still increasing.” (I have 5 or so posts on the so-called leveling off since 2010. Search “leveling obesity epidemic” to access them.)


Gallup Survey Shows Increasing Rates of Obesity

January 30th, 2015 No comments »

The Gallup Organization and Healthways have tracked adult obesity in the United States over seven years. In their most recent report, they found that rates have continued to tick up, rising more than 2% points since 2008 reaching 27.7%. The rate for overweight and normal weight have decrease to 35.2% from 36.7% and to 35.1% from 36.1%, respectively. These results are based on self-reported results unlike the NHANES data which use clinical measurements. Significantly, rates of morbid or severe obesity  (a BMI of 40.0 or more) have reached 4%, the highest in the history of the survey. Obesity rates among seniors showed the sharpest uptick, a 4% point increase since 2008. The survey showed a relationship between obesity and lower incomes and long-term unemployment. Gallup research indicates that overall well-being predicts future obesity more than obesity predicting future well-being. Gallup suggests that weight management programs should address financial and social wellbeing.


Unstoppable Rise in Global Obesity?

May 29th, 2014 No comments »

The Lancet has published an analysis of the global, regional, and national prevalence of overweight and obesity in children and adults between 1980-2013. The bottom line: overweight and obesity is increasing in children and adults, among men and women in developed and developing countries, albeit at different rates. No national success story in preventing or controlling obesity has been reported in the past 33 years. The abstract reads, in part, “Worldwide, the proportion of adults with a body-mass index (BMI) of 25 kg/m2 or greater increased between 1980 and 2013 from 28·8% (95% UI 28·4—29·3) to 36·9% (36·3—37·4) in men, and from 29·8% (29·3—30·2) to 38·0% (37·5—38·5) in women. Prevalence has increased substantially in children and adolescents in developed countries; 23·8% (22·9—24·7) of boys and 22·6% (21·7—23·6) of girls were overweight or obese in 2013. The prevalence of overweight and obesity has also increased in children and adolescents in developing countries, from 8·1% (7·7—8·6) to 12·9% (12·3—13·5) in 2013 for boys and from 8·4% (8·1—8·8) to 13·4% (13·0—13·9) in girls. In adults, estimated prevalence of obesity exceeded 50% in men in Tonga and in women in Kuwait, Kiribati, Federated States of Micronesia, Libya, Qatar, Tonga, and Samoa. Since 2006, the increase in adult obesity in developed countries has slowed down. Because of the established health risks and substantial increases in prevalence, obesity has become a major global health challenge. Not only is obesity increasing, but no national success stories have been reported in the past 33 years. Urgent global action and leadership is needed to help countries to more effectively intervene.”


What Leveling Off? Part 2

May 28th, 2014 No comments »

The Healthy People project is a massive undertaking conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services every ten years. An interim report card, published in JAMA,  focuses on selected “Leading Health Indicators”. Twenty-six out of the thousands of goals in Health People are selected as Leading Health Indicators. 14 of the 26 have documented improvement. 4 have met or exceed the goal. The report found that 3 of the 26 showed a worsening situation. Adult obesity has increased from 33.9% in 2005-2008 to 35.3% in 2009-2012. The goal was a reduction to 30.5%. Obesity among adolescents and children (2 to 19 years of age) as increased from 16.1% in 2005-2008 to 16.9% in 2009-2012. The goal was a reduction to 14.5%. The third negative indicator was daily intake of vegetables. This has remained stable at 0.8% in both timeframes. The goal was an increase to 1.1 vegetable servings.


Recession Increased Odds of Becoming Obese

May 28th, 2014 No comments »

The widely-respected OECD reports that obesity continues to increase rates of obesity. The interesting finding is that the economic recession has increased the prevalence of obesity. Their research indicates that people worried about their economic condition reduced their food budget and moved from healthier, more costly foods to cheaper, more calorically dense foods.




What Leveling Off?

May 23rd, 2014 No comments »

Recently, the word from the Michelle Obama, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and others, has been that the obesity epidemic is ‘leveling off,” at least among children. Many of us are skeptical because there was no evidence of the cause of any leveling off (much like we have don’t understand the putative causes of obesity) but mainly because the time separation of one survey from another was really too short to demonstrate a trend.

Now comes another piece to the puzzle. The folks at Gallup Healthways Well-Being Index have surveyed adult individuals in the US since 2008, using self-reported heights and weights to calculate Body Mass Index (BMI). The most recent survey shows adult obesity has increased to 27.7% in 2014 from 27.1% in 2013. The share of the population at a normal weight continues to decline from 35.7% in 2013 to 35.3% in 2014.