Share This Page

Number of extremely obese buck downward trend

| Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013, 6:36 p.m.

There are signs that Americans overall are getting a grip on their expanding waistlines for the first time in decades. But before anyone becomes too optimistic, the flip side is a significant jump in Americans who edged into the worrisome category of extremely obese.

The question then, heading into a New Year filled with well-intentioned resolutions for weight loss, is which trend will prevail? Is there reason to hope that Americans are turning a corner on a major public health issue?

“Americans seem to have woken up to the fact that we've got a problem, and the leveling off in obesity rates is a very good thing,” said obesity researcher Donna Ryan, a professor emeritus at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge. “But there is still lots of hard work to do to get people to healthier weights.”

Recent government data showed that obesity among adults is continuing to level off after several decades of skyrocketing growth. In 2012, about 34.9 percent of Americans were obese, about 35 pounds over a healthy weight. That was not significantly different from the 35.7 percent who were obese in 2010, according to Cynthia Ogden, an epidemiologist with the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Adults are considered obese if they have a body mass index, or BMI, of 30 or greater. BMI takes into account height and weight. It measures body mass; it doesn't distinguish between fat and muscle.

At the same time, a disturbing trend is emerging: The percentage of people who are extremely obese, that is roughly 100 pounds over a healthy weight, rose from 2.8 percent in 1994 to 4.8 percent in 2004 to 6.3 percent in 2010, according to the CDC. A person is deemed extremely obese with a BMI of 40 or greater.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.