Adult and teen obesity rates hit all-time high, CDC reports

October 13, 2017, American Heart Association
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) indicate the adult obesity rates in the United States are now a staggering 40 percent while youth obesity rates grew to 20 percent for 12-to-19-year-olds. An all-time high, these rates and the persistent disparities across different race-ethnicity groups further elevate public health concerns about how our nation can prevent and reduce obesity. As the world's leading voluntary organization dedicated to building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke, the American Heart Association is alarmed by the growing impact record high obesity rates contribute to heart and brain health.

"The disparities in among blacks and Hispanics, both young and old, are shocking – we can and must do better," said Nancy Brown, American Heart Association CEO. "Our nation will continue to be in the midst of this crisis until we drive transformative change in every community. We have the tools. We just need to employ them."

NHANES is a national data survey implemented by the CDC that combines interviews and physical examinations to measure rates of disease across the entire nation. This recent NHANES report follows other current evidence from such sources as the State of Obesity and the National Children's Health Survey, that indicate although public efforts have slowed the rate of increasing in recent years, the proportion of the US population that are obese continues to slowly rise. This new record high rate of obesity demonstrates the need for redoubling efforts to prevent and reduce obesity.

"These staggering statistics are unacceptable. Every child needs and deserves the opportunity to be healthy," said Brown. "Parents and teachers are calling on their communities to ensure school standards for nutrition and physical education that enable millions of children to fuel their bodies and strengthen their hearts. It is our moral imperative to advocate for national, state and local policies that promote good nutrition and for our children."

The American Heart Association invests in research, public education and advocacy that all play a critical role in transforming communities to make each day healthier for all people living in the United States. To increase physical activity, for example, the Association works with transportation and community planners to build safer streets for people walking and biking as well as ensure kids can safely walk to school.

"We know the basics of supply and demand help people eat healthier and move more," added Eduardo Sanchez, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer for Prevention at the American Heart Association. "It will take a massive push from the food and beverage industry to increase the supply of affordable, healthy, nutritious foods and fewer sugary drinks. And it takes a tremendous effort on the part of consumers to demand healthier products and policies in their communities. We all have to do our part."

Voices for Healthy Kids, a joint initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Heart Association, is proving such advocacy efforts pay off. The initiative focuses on harnessing the power of grassroots campaigns at the local and state level to increase access to healthy foods and safe places to be active. In less than five years, more than seventy-five communities now have new goals and standards for nutrition and physical activity in schools and child care centers due to the work of Voices for Healthy Kids. In addition, residents of these communities benefit from funding for healthy food financing more walkable communities and other evidence-based public health strategies.

Explore further: U.S. obesity rate holding steady, but still high

Related Stories

U.S. obesity rate holding steady, but still high

August 31, 2017
(HealthDay)—Obesity rates in the United States appear to be leveling off, but Americans shouldn't think the battle of the bulge is won, health advocates say.

U.S. lagging in walking, walkable community development

September 15, 2017
The United States earns failing grades when it comes to the number of people walking to work and school plus the number of walkable communities, finds a new national report.

Declines in childhood obesity highlight need for voices for healthy kids

August 7, 2013
American Heart Association Deputy Chief Medical Officer Eduardo Sánchez issued the following comments on behalf of Voices for Healthy Kids on the CDC's Vital Signs report released today that shows declines in childhood obesity ...

New study on US health an urgent call to action

July 12, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—The American Heart Association today says a new study, "The State of U.S. Health, 1990-2010: Burdens of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors" released in The Journal of the American Medical Association is ...

Higher mass transit use associated with lower obesity rates

May 16, 2017
Healthy mass transit systems could contribute to healthier communities, according to a new study by University of Illinois researchers that determined higher mass transit use was correlated with lower obesity rates in counties ...

Modest increases in kids' physical activity could avert billions in medical costs

May 1, 2017
Increasing the percentage of elementary school children in the United States who participate in 25 minutes of physical activity three times a week from 32 percent to 50 percent would avoid $21.9 billion in medical costs and ...

Recommended for you

How obesity dulls the sense of taste

March 20, 2018
Previous studies have indicated that weight gain can reduce one's sensitivity to the taste of food, and that this effect can be reversed when the weight is lost again, but it's been unclear as to how this phenomenon arises. ...

Early puberty linked with increased risk of obesity for women

March 15, 2018
Girls who start puberty earlier are more likely to be overweight as adults, finds new research from Imperial College London.

New link between gut bacteria and obesity

February 26, 2018
Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have discovered a new link between gut bacteria and obesity. They found that certain amino acids in the blood are connected to obesity and the composition of the gut microbiome.

Instead of nagging your spouse to lose weight, try going on a diet yourself

February 22, 2018
Tired of nagging your spouse to lose a few pounds? You might get better results by going on a diet yourself.

PFASs, chemicals commonly found in environment, may interfere with body weight regulation

February 13, 2018
A class of chemicals used in many industrial and consumer products was linked with greater weight gain after dieting, particularly among women, according to a study led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The chemicals—perfluoroalkyl ...

Study shows benefits of exercise can outweigh health effects of severe obesity

February 12, 2018
Can you be fit and healthy even if you're overweight? That's the question researchers at York University's Faculty of Health set out to answer in a new study that shows physical activity may be equally and perhaps even more ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.