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We have brought a butter knife to the war on obesity, and the results

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We have brought a butter knife to the war on obesity, and the results are predictable.

The latest Centers for Disease Control report on obesity “Prevalence of Obesity Among Adults and Youth:United States, 2015–2016,” was released this month,

The report shows:

  • In 2015–2016, the prevalence of obesity was 39.8% in adults and 18.5% in youth.
  • The prevalence of obesity was higher among middle-aged adults (42.8%) than among younger adults (35.7%).
  • The prevalence of obesity was higher among youth aged 6–11 years (18.4%) and adolescents aged 12–19 years (20.6%) compared with children aged 2–5 years (13.9%).
  • The observed change in prevalence between 2013–2014 and 2015–2016 was not significant among both adults and youth.

While there is not much change in obesity between 2013-14 and 2015-16, make no mistake about the trend. Over time, the rate of obesity for youth (ages 2-19) has climbed from 13.9% in 1999-2000 to 18.5% in 2015-16. For adults, the obesity rate has climbed from 30.5% in 1999-2000 to 39.6% in 2015-16.

Needless to say, the CDC points out that the prevalence of obesity in the United States remains higher than the Healthy People 2020 goals of 14.5% among youth and 30.5% among adults.

In a double whammy, the World Health Organization also has issued a discouraging report about obesity among children.

From the WHO:

  • The number of obese children and adolescents (aged five to 19 years) worldwide has risen tenfold in the past four decades.
  • If current trends continue, more children and adolescents will be obese than moderately or severely underweight by 2022, according to a new study led by Imperial College London and WHO.
  • Obesity rates in the world’s children and adolescents increased from less than 1% (equivalent to five million girls and six million boys) in 1975 to nearly 6% in girls (50 million) and nearly 8% in boys (74 million) in 2016.
  • Combined, the number of obese five to 19 year olds rose more than tenfold globally, from 11 million in 1975 to 124 million in 2016.
  • An additional 213 million were overweight in 2016 but fell below the threshold for obesity.

From the release:

Lead author Professor Majid Ezzati, of Imperial’s School of Public Health, says: “Over the past four decades, obesity rates in children and adolescents have soared globally, and continue to do so in low- and middle-income countries. More recently, they have plateaued in higher income countries, although obesity levels remain unacceptably high.”

Professor Ezzati adds: “These worrying trends reflect the impact of food marketing and policies across the globe, with healthy nutritious foods too expensive for poor families and communities. The trend predicts a generation of children and adolescents growing up obese and at greater risk of diseases, like diabetes. We need ways to make healthy, nutritious food more available at home and school, especially in poor families and communities, and regulations and taxes to protect children from unhealthy foods.”

TK: Promoting fruit and vegetable consumption, hand in hand with restricting empty calories, can only succeed at home and school with the buy-in of both parents and right-thinking school food policies. There hasn’t been enough of either so far.

And given the fact that Americans get more obese as we age, the changes had better start with the man in the mirror.

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