Obesity
May 13, 2014
Is the epidemic slowing?

The rise of U.S. obesity rates has slowed in recent years, but the rates appear to be falling only among one group — very young children. The annual bill for treating illnesses related to being overweight or obese climbed nearly 80 percent over the last decade, and the American Medical Association now considers obesity a disease — a change anti-obesity advocates hope will affect health care and public health policy. Several states and localities are taking steps to fight obesity, such as including walking and bike paths in transportation plans and requiring restaurants to post nutrition information. But public-health advocates say a more comprehensive approach is needed. Meanwhile, as some people adopt healthier eating patterns to fight obesity, tens of thousands of American adults are choosing surgical interventions for chronic obesity.

U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama explains proposed changes to

                nutrition labels on food packages at the White House on Feb. 27, 2014.  U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama explains proposed changes to nutrition labels on food packages at the White House on Feb. 27, 2014. The changes emphasize calorie count, added sugars and a new layout of basic nutritional values. (Getty Images/Win McNamee)

A study released in February by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that more than 30 percent of adults and 17 percent of adolescents in America are obese, but the prevalence of obesity among those groups remained nearly unchanged from 2003 to 2012. The obesity rate decreased among only one group — children ages 2 to 5 — dropping from 13.9 percent to 8 percent, according to the study.1

CDC Director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden said researchers were encouraged by the results, which followed a CDC report in August showing an improvement in obesity rates among low-income preschoolers in 19 states and U.S. territories.2 The decline was seen as an important indication that obesity strategies may be starting to pay off.

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