Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Obesity: Disturbing Rates Even if Trends Show a Glimmer of Hope

The health making headline this morning is the latest data out of the CDC indicating that obesity rates are continuing to rise across the country – topping 30% of the population in nine US states. Yet, just a few months ago, weren’t we celebrating the headline that obesity rates had plateaued and stopped rising based on data from the CDC?

In a word, yes.

How is this possible? Does it mean the CDC doesn’t know what is going on? Not at all! The data are based on two different sources of information under the purview of the CDC – the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The two studies, unfortunately, do provide different estimates of the prevalence of health behaviors (including physical activity) and health outcomes in the US. In part this is due to different sampling strategies. Simply put, they are both trying to sample a group of people representative of the entire US, but each go about it in different ways.

But the headlines surrounding the NHANES data that came out earlier this year masked the important data that the BRFSS data highlights today – that 30% of the US is obese. Whether or not the trends are going up or leveling off, that is an alarmingly high figure. And remember, that doesn’t include the percentage of the population who are overweight – which correspond to another 30-35% of the population.

For tips on making some of the healthy choices than can help with weight management, check out our tips on healthy cooking, eating fruits and veggies, being sedentary, being active, the context of weight loss and perhaps most important – making time for those healthy choices.

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