Health News

Obesity rates slow but remain very high

This qualifies as good news in the nation’s battle of the bulge: The obesity rate among adults appears to have leveled off over the past 10 years after skyrocketing during the previous couple decades, according to a new study.

A companion study on young people indicates much the same thing: The obesity rate has remained steady in recent years, though it’s still alarmingly high.

The studies “offer a glimmer of hope that in the United States at least, the steady, decades-long increases in overweight and obesity may have slowed or perhaps reached a plateau,” states an editorial accompanying the reports, quickly adding that 68 percent of Americans are overweight, and 33.8 percent of that group is considered obese.

“You’re talking about leveling something that’s already way the heck up the mountain,” said Dr. Michael Weiss, a pediatrician who practices in Santa Margarita, Calif., and president of the Orange County chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Weiss said he hopes policymakers and the general public don’t interpret the findings to mean that an aggressive effort isn’t needed to combat obesity.

“It certainly doesn’t change anything in my mind in terms of the opportunities we have and the funding that needs to be directed toward obesity awareness, as far as school lunches and fast foods,” he said.

“I wouldn’t look at this and say, ‘We can divert funds away from that.’”

The studies are to be published in the Jan. 20 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association but were posted online Wednesday because of their “public health importance,” the journal said.

Both studies examined population data compiled by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.