Record numbers of Americans are obese, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Obesity means having a body-mass index of 30 or over, whereas a BMI of between 25 and 29.9 earns the classification of “overweight.” (It’s worth noting that the BMI measurement system is controversial among physicians.)
More than 70% of Americans are now either obese or overweight by this measure. However, the statistics are particularly worrying. Almost 40% of adults are obese. The childhood obesity rate, for ages 6-19, has increased to 20%.
Childhood obesity is linked to increased mortality rates in adulthood, and obesity can lead to diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
It’s hardly a uniquely American problem though — the World Health Organization (WHO) warned this week that the number of obese kids and adolescents has risen tenfold over the last four decades, around the world.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why. The WHO blamed the relatively low price of unhealthy food relative to nutritious alternatives, calling for cheaper healthy foods and more regulations and taxes to protect kids against unhealthy foods.
And then there’s the impact of good old exercise.
Worryingly, the upward trajectory of the U.S. obesity trend has been continuing “despite many public health efforts to improve nutrition and physical activity,” Frank Hu of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health told NBC News.
“There’s still a huge amount of cheap, accessible, highly processed food available everywhere [at] almost any time,” he said. “And despite people doing more recreational activity these days, the overall activity level, household activity and occupational activity have decreased in recent years.”