Obesity is The New Normal! More Americans Are Giving Up on Losing Weight

As the rates of obesity steadily increasing, our perception of acceptable weight has increased. In other words, socially acceptable body weight is increasing. A recent showed that if more individuals who are overweight or obese are satisfied with their weight, more chances that they give up on losing weight.

The study published in JAMA included a data on 27,350 adults from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). This survey assessed the trend in the percentage of adults who were overweight or obese and trying to lose weight during 3 periods from 1988 through 2014. Participants ages 20 to 59 years who were overweight (a body mass index [BMI] of 25 to less than 30) or obese (BMI 30 or greater) were included. The question of interest was “During the past 12 months, have you tried to lose weight?”

Overweight and obesity prevalence increased throughout the study period, from 53 percent in 1988-1994 to 66 percent in 2009-2014. The percentages of adults who were overweight or obese and trying to lose weight went down during the same period, from 56 percent in 1988-1994 to 49 percent in 2009-2014.

The authors write that fewer adults trying to lose weight may be due to body weight misperception reducing the motivation to lose weight, or primary care clinicians not discussing weight issues with patients. Also, the longer adults live with obesity, the less they may be willing to attempt weight loss, in particular if they had attempted weight loss multiple times without success.

This is an unfortunate and alarming trend in the USA and other parts of the world. This raise in obesity numbers are at least partly due to eating habits and lack of exercise.

In the past, being overweight used to be a sign of prosperity. But in the current society, obesity seems to be a sign of poverty as healthier foods cost much more than unhealthy foods. If this trend continues, the healthcare burden of diseases including diabetes, heart disease, etc., will be enormous and will suffocate the healthcare resources even further.

Sripathi R. Kethu, M.D. FACG.
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Sripathi R. Kethu, M.D. FACG.

Dr Kethu is a Gastroenterologist in Dallas.

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