Obesity in America

In the United States, more than a third of the adult population is considered to be obese. This translates into 78.6 million adults or 34.9% of the population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Obesity is more than a matter of being comfortable or having the ability to do the things that you want. Individuals that are obese face many other health problems in their lifetime because of the obesity including such things as type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart disease and even some types of cancer.

Cost of Obesity in the United States

Along with the large number of individuals who are obese comes a high price to pay. The cost of obesity within in the United States was reported to be $147 billion dollars in the year 2008. In fact, the annual medical costs for individuals that are obese are $1,429 more than those that are at normal weight. This means that the health care in the United States is significantly designated to handle obesity and related illness or complications. Health care costs for obese individuals may be spent on such things as medications for treating related comorbidities such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Instances of necessary aftercare for those that have suffered from complications such as heart attack or stroke are also fairly high.

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Obesity Affects Some Groups More than Others

While obesity can strike anyone at any age and from any ethnic background, there are some groups that seem to be most affected by the issue. The Journal of American Medicine (JAMA) reports that non-Hispanic blacks maintain the highest instances of obesity with 47.8% being affected. Hispanics come in second with a rate of 42.5% of the population being affected and non-Hispanic whites take third with 32.6% of the group being affected by obesity. It would seem that the non-Hispanic Asian population within the United States is least affected by obesity with 10.8% of the population being affected.

Age is a Factor

There is evidence that there are specific age groups that are most affected by obesity. Middle age adults seem to be the most challenged by obesity with 39.5% of obese individuals in the United States being between the ages of 40 and 59 years old. Adults over the age of 60 accounts for 35.4% and young adults between the ages of 20 and 39 make up approximately 30.3% of the obese population. The exact reason for this obesity by age is unclear. It may have to do with changes in the body that occur at that age making it challenging for individuals to shed excess weight. Hormonal changes could be a contributing factor to the obesity in the middle age range.

Socioeconomics May Play a Role

In addition to obesity affecting specific age groups and ethnic backgrounds, the issue also appears to affect individuals at different socioeconomic standings. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention individuals that are both non-Hispanic black males and Mexican-American males have a higher instance of being obese when combined with a low income. Studies also reveal that women with higher incomes seem to have fewer instances of obesity than women with a lower income.

It is also noted that education may alter the likelihood of obesity in some sexes. Men who have a higher level of education do not seem to have any less of a chance of obesity than those that did not have education beyond high school. Women with a higher education do seem to have less of a chance of obesity occurring across the board than those women that do not continue on to college level educations. The exact reasons for this are not evident.

Location Matters

Among the many factors studied relating to obesity rates in the United States, the location of the individuals does seem to make a small difference. While no state in the United States has an obesity rate less than 20% some had higher rates than others. There are seven states in including the District of Columbia where the obesity rate is between 20% and 25% of the population. There are 23 states within the country that have a population with between 25% to 30% obese and 18 states with obesity rates of between 30% and 35%. The highest rates of obesity in the United States are found in Mississippi and West Virginia with a rate of more than 35% of the population.

When broken down by region, the southern part of the United States had an obesity rate of 30.2% with the Midwest portion of the United States coming in at 30.1%, the Northeastern portion of the country at 26.5% and the western states accounting for 24.9$. In other parts of the world, the rates come in on the high end with numbers such as 27% of obesity in the Guam population and 27.9% in the Puerto Rico population.

Obesity in Children

Obesity does not only affect adults in the United States. In this country, the obesity rate for children between the ages of 2 and 19 years old remains at approximately 17% or 12.7 million, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This said the obesity rate for younger children between the ages of 2 and 5 years has seen a steady decline according to the CDCs National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). In 2003 the percentage of children ages 2 to 5 in the United States that suffered from obesity was 13.9% while in 2011 it showed as 8.4%. The 2012 data shows that children ages 6 to 11 years had a rate of 17.7% obese while ages 12 to 19 years had a 20.5% rate.

Happy overweight couple.

Ethnic Differences in Child Obesity

As in adults, there are some clear differences in how races are affected by obesity in the United States. Studies conducted in 2011-2012 found that children Hispanic children accounted for 22.4% of the obesity rates, non-Hispanic black children accounted for 20.2% and non-Hispanic white children accounted for 14.1% of the obesity among children in the United States. The lowest level of prevalence came in the non-Hispanic Asian children at 8.6%.

Income Plays a Role in Childhood Obesity Levels

As in adults, there seems to be some correlation between childhood obesity and the income level of the household, particularly for children ages 2 to 4 years. More children suffer from obesity in homes that are at or below poverty levels.  In families with an income-to-poverty (ITP) ratio of 50% approximately 14.2% are obese, in homes with an ITP of 51 to 100% a 14.5% obesity level is reached, for families with an ITP of 101% to 130% a 13.4% obesity level is reported, in a household at an ITP of 131% to 15% a 12.4% obesity level is shown and those in a household with an ITP of 151 to 185% an 11.8% obesity rate appears.

The increase in obesity within the United States over the past 20 years has prodded many to try to combat the problem. Schools, doctors, and individuals are working to promote awareness of obesity and how it can affect the United States communities in many ways. Not only does obesity affect the individual suffering from the issue, but it can affect the rest of the community as well. The increase in obesity can lead to more serious problems such as the many comorbidities that are associated with the issue.

An increase in the need for care of these individuals means an increase in the need for health care costs. Proper nutrition, access to healthy foods, exercise plans implanted in the early years and education regarding the problems are all things that are being done to try to combat the problem. Those that are currently obese and in danger of further health problems are also considering things such as weight loss surgery to try and get a fresh start and regain control of the problem.

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