An illustration of an overweight man choosing between good food choices and poor ones.

Image: Shutterstock

Here in the United States, one of our biggest problems is growing—literally. Two new studies from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that more than a third of adults and 21% of youths are overweight. More alarming is that currently, 41 percent of women and 35 percent of men are obese. A decade ago, 38 percent of women and 35 percent of men were obese.

In the last two years, rates for teenage obesity have risen from 17% to 21%. That’s quite a bit.

“These trends are not explained by changes in age or educational levels in the population or by changes in the distribution of race-ethnic groups in the population or changes in smoking status,” said Cynthia Ogden, a CDC researcher who worked on the studies. Around the world, almost 2 billion adults are overweight.

But there’s good news for very young children, 2-5: the studies found that obesity for children in that age range had declined from 14% ten years ago and now sits at 9%. The age range between 6 and 11 also dropped slightly, though not significantly enough to rule out that the decline was due to chance.

One of the studies’ conclusions is a bit disheartening. The studies found that huge investments the country has made to reverse the effects of obesity and get people to lose weight really haven’t been much of a success at all.

“We have done a deplorable job of helping parents understand food as a prescription for health,” said Dr. Lili Lustig, family medicine researcher at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. “if a parent does not understand the value of food choices, how can you expect their children and the next generation to have any better understanding?”

The CDC estimates that the estimated annual cost of obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion in 2008. Medical costs were an average of $1,429 higher per year for individuals who were overweight. Obesity was most common and most severe among non-Hispanic Blacks, whose highest age-adjusted obesity rate was 47.8%. Obesity was also high among Hispanic people at 42.5%. White people had an obesity rate of 32.6%, and non-Hispanic Asians only 10.8%.

Education is crucial to good health and good nutrition. Teaching each other and learning about good food and how to lead a healthy life are so necessary to being well. Make sure you know how!

About 

Mary Summers is a recent college grad and freelance writer residing in the Pacific Northwest. She loves writing about trending topics, health and beauty advice, music, film, and television.