But not all demographics experienced as big of an increase as others. (Photo: Getty Images)
The new obesity numbers are out, and they are higher than ever.
Gallup-Healthways released its latest data on obesity in the United States, showing that in 2014, 27.7 percent of adults were considered obese — up from 25.5 percent in 2008.
The rate is the highest in the seven years Gallup-Healthways has tracked obesity. The new report is based on data from phone interviews conducted from Jan. 2 to Dec. 30, 2014, with 167,029 adults throughout the U.S.
Obesity is determined as having a body mass index (BMI) score of 30 or higher. A BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight, a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered normal weight, and a BMI of 18.4 or less is considered underweight.
Even though the number of Americans who are of normal weight has not changed since 2013, more people who were previously considered overweight are now obese based on their BMI.
Of the people polled, those ages 65 and older experienced the biggest increase in obesity (a 4 percentage-point increase from 2008 to 2014), followed closely by 45-to-64-year-olds (with an increase of 3.5 percentage-points). Other groups that experienced large increases since 2008 include Midwesterners (an increase of 2.9 percent) and women (an increase of 2.8 percent).
However, adults ages 18 to 29 only saw a 0.3 percentage-point increase in obesity from 2008 to 2014 (going from 17.4 percent to 17.7 percent). And even though black people still have the highest obesity rate of all measured demographics of 35.5 percent, their obesity rate increased only 0.5 percentage-points from 2008 to 2014 (from 35 percent to 35.5. percent).
At this point, most people know that exercise and healthy eating are key to achieving a healthy weight. So why, still, the creep up in obesity?
It might have something to do with the association between obesity and indicators of well-being (such as purpose, social well-being, financial well-being and physical well-being). Gallup-Healthways researchers found an association between obesity and low reports of well-being, and even though each element influences the other — obesity influences well-being, and vice versa — researchers did note that past data shows well-being affects future obesity outcomes more than the other way around.
"To date, most efforts to curb obesity focus on driving weight loss through diet and exercise, without addressing other aspects of well-being that may contribute to obesity," Janna Lacatell, Healthways Lifestyle Solutions director, said in the report.
"The rising obesity rate suggests these efforts have been largely ineffective. While access to evidence-based, proven weight loss programs emphasizing better nutrition and more physical activity is a critical component to reducing obesity, these interventions alone are not enough," Lacatell added in the report. ”To make a truly measurable impact on reducing obesity rates, interventions should also address other factors known to influence weight management, such as financial and social well-being.”
Past research conducted on Americans’ eating habits also shows that in general, Americans are eating more healthfully now than a decade ago. But as LiveScience points out, diet quality differs dramatically depending on income and education, with those at the high end of the spectrum having healthier diets than those with lower incomes and education levels. These findings were based on data from 29,000 adults who were part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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