Almost half of americans are trying to lose weight: CDC

October 19, 2018 by E.j. Mundell, Healthday Reporter

(HealthDay)—The latest national tally on dieting finds that nearly half of U.S. adults are doing what they can to trim a widening waistline.

Overall, 49.3 percent of people aged 20 and older said they'd tried to lose weight over the past 12 months, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The findings were based on a 2015-2016 national health survey, the latest data available.

The new stats reflect a significant increase from prior surveys. For example, 43 percent of American adults were trying to slim down in 2007-2008, but the numbers have crept steadily upwards every year since, the CDC said.

Attempts at weight loss were higher for women than men in the latest survey (56.3 percent and 42.2 percent, respectively), but over time rates of increase have been steady for both genders.

Why are more Americans than ever concerned about overweight and obesity? Registered dietitian Stephanie Schiff cites multiple reasons.

First off, "we are more sedentary than ever before," said Schiff, who guides the nutrition program at Northwell Health's Huntington Hospital, in Huntington, N.Y. "Our entertainment is more likely to occur while we are sitting—in front of the TV, in front of a computer, in bed with our phones in our hands."

Next, "we're not cooking our own as much, we're eating out more," she said. "And when we don't have a hand in our own meals, we don't have control over what goes into it—others do. And they add more fat, more sugar, more salt."

Increasing stress levels can also "play havoc with our metabolisms," Schiff said, and that can prompt people to overeat. Sleeplessness is another known risk factor for poor eating, she added.

So what works to get slim and keep the weight from coming back? Sharon Zarabi is a registered dietitian who leads the bariatric program at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

She believes the key is to incorporate healthy living habits that last a lifetime—not just a fast fix.

"I try to avoid using the word 'diet,' as it is something you manage for a short period of time based on food intake," she said. Instead, Zarabi said, she would "encourage more healthy living, which focuses on incorporating rituals to define a new sense of optimal well-being to feel good for life."

"You follow a diet when you want to lose weight—and then what?," she said. "Lifestyle is what keeps the weight off, and that comes through our behavior."

Schiff agreed. She noted that even the faddiest, "odd" diets can work to drop pounds, but then those pounds come creeping back.

"Because eating only 500 calories a day may not be sustainable, or eating only certain foods for your blood type," she explained.

The real solution is finding "a way of eating that is natural and has you feeling satisfied" over the long term, Schiff said. That means including foods you actually enjoy.

Sticking to plant-based foods and avoiding refined sugars, refined flour and chemically processed foods works best, Schiff said.

"Sometimes it also means changing your environment—getting rid of problem foods in your house, the foods you have no control over, or that you eat just because they're there," she said.

The bottom line, she said, is to "make changes that you know you can live with for the rest of your life."

And don't forget exercise. Exercise can help boost weight loss, but more importantly it's a way of "keeping your body finely tuned and healthy and strong," Schiff said. And with exercise—especially resistance exercise—if weight does come back, it will return as healthy muscle, not fat, she said.

The new stats on were published Oct. 18 in the CDC journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Explore further: Half of Americans trying to slim down

More information: Stephanie Schiff, RDN, Northwell Health's Huntington Hospital, Huntington, N.Y.; Sharon Zarabi RD, bariatric program director, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Oct. 18, 2018, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

There;'s more on maintaining a healthy weight at the U.S. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Related Stories

Half of Americans trying to slim down

July 12, 2018
(HealthDay)—In a country where four out of 10 adults are obese, it's probably good news that half of U.S. adults say they've recently tried to shed some pounds.

Improve diet quality to boost weight loss

August 9, 2018
(HealthDay)—Eating fewer calories is essential when you want to lose weight, but there's growing evidence that the quality of those calories matters, too. Eating high-quality foods not only boosts weight loss, but also ...

Four rules to avoid regaining lost weight

July 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Have you reached your ideal weight? Congratulations! You're halfway to winning the weight loss battle.

Diet tips that go beyond calorie cutting

September 28, 2018
(HealthDay)—Calories in must be less than calories out—that's the basic rule of dieting.

The health benefits of eating earlier

August 27, 2018
(HealthDay)—Weight loss depends on eating fewer calories than your body uses up. But when you eat those calories could make a difference that you'll see on the scale.

How to maintain that weight loss

February 20, 2018
(HealthDay)—If you've been on a diet more than once, you know that it can be harder to maintain weight than to lose weight in the first place.

Recommended for you

Mothers more influential than fathers when it comes to children's weight

November 21, 2018
Overweight and obesity often continue for generations in families. The links can be genetic, but are also related to family relationships and lifestyle habits.

Race plays role in regaining weight after gastric bypass surgery

November 15, 2018
African Americans and Hispanic Americans who have undergone Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) are at greater risk to regain weight as compared to Caucasians. To date, no study has addressed the effect of race on weight regain ...

Simple tips can lead to better food choices

November 13, 2018
A few easily learned tips on eating and food choice can increase amount of healthy food choices between 5 percent and 11 percent, a new Yale University study has found.

Study finds that in treating obesity, one size does not fit all

November 13, 2018
Analyzing data from more than 2,400 obese patients who underwent bariatric weight-loss surgery, researchers identified at least four different patient subgroups that diverge significantly in eating behaviors and rate of diabetes, ...

Exercise makes even the 'still overweight' healthier: study

November 13, 2018
(HealthDay)—Heavyset folks who exercise regularly shouldn't get discouraged if they can't seem to shed more weight, no matter how hard they try.

Scientists shine new light on link between obesity and cancer

November 12, 2018
Scientists have made a major discovery that shines a new, explanatory light on the link between obesity and cancer. Their research confirms why the body's immune surveillance systems—led by cancer-fighting Natural Killer ...


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.