Research recently published by BYU motor science researchers reveals critical and rare data detailing the severity of the obesity epidemic in the United States.
The article, published in Obesity diary, looked at the long-term weight gain of more than 13,800 U.S. adults, a rare data point unearthed in obesity research. They found that more than half of the American adults in the study gained 5% or more body weight over a 10-year period. Additionally, more than a third of American adults gained 10 percent or more of their body weight, and nearly a fifth gained 20 percent or more.
“The obesity epidemic in the United States is not slowing down,” said study lead author Larry Tucker, a professor of exercise science at BYU. “Without a doubt, 10-year weight gain is a serious problem in the US adult population.”
Study participants were randomly selected as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, an annual survey that examines a nationally representative sample. NHANES is a CDC-sponsored study series that began in the early 1960s and became a continuing program in 1999.
Using the NHANES data, the study also found that weight gain over 10 years was significantly greater in women than men, with women gaining about twice the weight – 12 pounds on average for women compared to 6 pounds. For the men. Weight gain also differed between races, with black women experiencing the greatest average weight gain over the 10-year period (19.4 pounds) and Asian men having the least (2.9 pounds). .
Regarding age, the greatest weight gains were found in young people and middle-aged adults; you gain less weight with increasing age. According to the data, Americans gain the following weight on average:
- 17.6 lbs between the ages of 20 and 30
- 14.3 lbs between 30 and 40 years old
- 9.5 pounds between the ages of 40 and 50
- 4.6 lbs between their 50s and 60s
If adults gain the average amount of weight during each decade of adult life, they will have gained over 45 pounds, which would push many of them into the obese category. According to the Department of Health and Human Services and the CDC, 42.4 percent of U.S. adults are currently obese. This is substantially up from the 30.5% measured in 2000.
“In about 20 years, the prevalence of obesity has increased by about 40 percent and severe obesity has nearly doubled,” Tucker said. “By knowing who is most likely to become obese, we can help healthcare professionals and public health officials focus more on individuals at risk.”
BYU graduate student Kayla Parker is also an author of the study.
Title of the article
10-Year Weight Gain in 13,802 US Adults: The Role of Age, Gender, and Race
Date of publication of the article
May 6, 2022
The authors declare no conflicts of interest.
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