US Adult Obesity Stabilizes in 2010

February 1, 2011

gallup-american-weight-feb-2011.JPGMore than six in 10 American adults (62.9%) were either overweight (36.3%) or obese (26.6%) in 2010, on par with 2009, but still slightly more than the 62.2% in 2008, according to new Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index data. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index uses respondents’ self-reports of their height and weight to calculate body mass index (BMI) scores. Individual BMI values of 30 or above are classified as “obese,” 25 to 29.9 are “overweight,” 18.5 to 24.9 are “normal weight,” and 18.4 or less are “underweight.”

Obesity Levels Slightly Drop in Q4 2010

gallup-american-weight-quarterly-feb-2011.JPGQuarterly tracking of Americans’ weight situation reveals that obesity levels dropped slightly in Q4 2010, but the percentage who were overweight increased by about the same amount. Obesity levels rose above 26% in the first quarter of 2009 and have remained at that level since then. Slightly more Americans have been overweight than normal weight each quarter since Gallup and Healthways began tracking BMI in the United States in 2008.

More Than 3 in 10 Black, Low-Income, and Middle-Aged Americans Obese

gallup-american-weight-demographic-feb-2011.JPGBlack Americans continue to struggle with their weight the most, with 36% obese in 2010. Low-income Americans (31.1%) and adults aged 45 to 64 (30.9%) are also among the most likely to be obese, as they were in past years. Obesity levels increase with age , until they drop among seniors age 65 and up (23.3%). The likelihood to be obese decreases as income rises.

The groups least likely to be obese in 2010 include high-income Americans (21.65), young adults (18%), and Asian Americans (8.2%), as in 2009 and 2008. Americans living in the West and East also continue to be less likely to be obese than those living in the Midwest and South.
There was essentially no significant change from 2009 to 2010 in the percentage obese across all of the demographic groups analyzed. However, across the board, Americans, with the exception of Asian Americans, are more likely to be obese in 2010 than they were in 2008.

Costs of Obesity

A Gallup analysis found that if the 10 most obese US cities reduced their rates to the national average, they could collectively save about $500 million in healthcare costs a year. In addition, the National Research Council recently released a new study linking Americans’ obesity levels to their shorter life expectancy compared with residents of other high-income countries.

Eating at Home Often Healthier

Majorities of all adults claim that they frequently or somewhat often eat healthier at home compared to when dining out (79%), according to a recent Harris Poll. In addition, majorities say they drink water as opposed to another type of beverage at meals (74%), choose healthy snacks (72%), eat a balanced diet (72%), read nutritional information on packaged food products before buying it (68%), attempt to eat smaller portions (64%), and exercise regularly (57%).

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