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Despite Efforts, U.S. Obesity Rate Continues to Climb

Latest federal report dashes hopes that obesity might be on the decline

The U.S. obesity rate continues to rise, dashing the expectations of health professionals who hoped to see a decline. While rates of sugar and sweetened soft drink consumption are down, the obesity rate has remained stubbornly high, according to new statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Between 2013 and 2014, FierceHealthcare reports, the obesity rate rose to 38% of American adults, up about 3% from the previous two years. Some metrics, such as childhood obesity, appear to have leveled off, but after hitting a brief plateau in the early 2000s, adult U.S. obesity rates have resumed their seemingly inexorable rise. 

"The trend is very unfortunate and very disappointing," Marion Nestle, PhD, of New York University told The New York Times. "Everybody was hoping that with the decline in sugar and soda consumption that we'd start seeing a leveling off of adult obesity."

Obesity rates in the U.S. began to spike in the 1980s and have made type-2 diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and other obesity-related disorders among the most common diagnoses for patients in the American health care system. 

An article in the Lancet early this year called progress against obesity and its related health complications "unacceptably" slow, FierceHealthcare previously reported. "It's time to realize that this vicious cycle of supply and demand for unhealthy foods can be broken with 'smart food policies' by governments alongside joint efforts from industry and civil society to create healthier food systems," said Christina Roberto, MD, of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston.

Part of the problem in the U.S., Walter Willett, MD, chairman of the Harvard School of Public Health told the Times, is that health awareness is not evenly spread across income levels and racial lines in the U.S. Health education efforts, he said, need to extend further into communities that struggle with obesity in order to improve patients' quality of life and ease the burden on the health care system posed by obesity-related health problems.

Source: FierceHealthcare, November 13, 2015.

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