- According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which is released every two years, obesity is still on the rise in the U.S. despite years of effort to combat it.
- The data released Thursday find about 38% of American adults qualified as obese in 2013 and 2014, a 3% increase from 2011 and 2012.
- Although some describe the increase as statistically insignificant, it was a surprise to many public health experts who were expecting to see improvement.
The findings indicate efforts so far have not been enough to reverse the overall obesity trend, or even get it to level off. However, the averaged data hides important details, some experts note, as not all segments of society are faring equally.
Notably, obesity stayed level for youth ages 2 to 19, which may be attributed to the additional focus childhood obesity has received, including efforts to improve nutrition in schools.
Dr. Walter Willett of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health notes any modest improvements occurring among some segments of the population are exclusive to educated Americans. In a paper he co-authored this month in Health Affairs, he writes some Americans’ diets improved in quality from 1999 to 2012 but lower-income, less educated Americans have yet to see such an effect.
Related, Healthcare Dive recently went to the Health Affairs Food and Health conference and reported on the findings on the relation of obesity to healthcare costs.