Graph of percentage of population considered obese based on BMI

I have been concerned about being overweight for years. So the high percentage of overweight Americans is not a new issue. However, I only recently looked at a Gallup report on obesity. Gallup analyzed data from a survey they conducted from 2008 to 2012 and found that obesity had increased in almost all age groups during the four year period. They broke the data down into 4 year age increments. For the 64-67 age bracket the obesity percentage went from 30.0% to 30.8%. Not much of a change, but the base level of 30% seems quite serious. For the 67-71 corresponding numbers are 28.2% to 29.3%–lower levels but a larger increase of 1.1%. The Gallup chart shows that obesity declines rapidly with age past 67. There is probably a reason for that. And a good reason I think to keep my weight in check. The National Institutes of Health provides some very specific good reasons.

A report from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDKD) analyzed data from two surveys conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). According to the NIH report health risks from obesity and overweight include:

  • type 2 diabetes
  • heart disease
  • high blood pressure
  • nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (excess fat and inflammation in the liver of people who drink little or no alcohol)
  • osteoarthritis (a health problem causing pain, swelling, and stiffness in one or more joints)
  • some types of cancer: breast, colon, endometrial (related to the uterine lining), and kidney
  • stroke

According to the NIDDKD more than two thirds of adults (Age 20 and older) are considered overweight or obese. 35.7 percent of adults (age 20 and older) are considered to be obese. These estimates are based on the body mass index (BMI). BMI is an estimate of body fat. According to NIH it provides “a good gauge of your risk for diseases that can occur with more body fat. The higher your BMI, the higher your risk for certain diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, gallstones, breathing problems, and certain cancers.” To find your body mass index go to the NIH BMI calculator. The body mass index only provides an estimate. But the current estimated rate of obesity is more than double the 13.4% rate measured in 1960. So, if the numbers are close, they portend big problems. We are living longer.  But perhaps we will spend those extra years in poorer health unless we make an extra effort to keep our weight under control.