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Dramatic figures for obesity


As consumerism continues on its upward curve, new figures released this week show that obesity and diabetes epidemics continued to escalate in 2001. In just over ten years, obesity has increased by more that 70 per cent in the US.

In a study published in the 1 January 2003 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that obesity climbed from 19.8 per cent of American adults to 20.9 per cent of American adults between 2000 and 2001, and diagnosed diabetes (including gestational diabetes) increased from 7.3 per cent to 7.9 per cent during the same one-year period. The increases were evident regardless of sex, age, race and educational status.

"Obesity and diabetes are among our top public health problems in the United States today," said HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson. "The good news is that diabetes and other chronic illnesses can be prevented with modest lifestyle changes. As we enter a new year, it is a great opportunity for all Americans to be active and healthy."

Currently, more than 44 million Americans are considered obese by body mass index, reflecting an increase of 74 per cent since 1991. During the same time frame, diabetes increased by 61 per cent, reflecting the strong correlation between obesity and development of diabetes. Today an estimated 17 million people have diabetes in the United States.

"These increases are disturbing and are likely even underestimated," said CDC director Dr. Julie L. Gerberding. "What's more important, we're seeing a number of serious health effects resulting from overweight and obesity."

The data in the report were obtained through the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), a state-based telephone survey that collects information from adults aged 18 years or older. For this survey, participants were asked about their height and weight and if they had ever been told by a doctor that they had diabetes.

The study also found strong and significant associations between overweight, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma and arthritis.

"If we continue on this same path, the results will be devastating to both the health of the nation and to our healthcare system," Gerberding said.

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