Category Archives: Obesity As a Disease

40% of U.S. Women Are Now Obese

(First published in

by Alexandra Sifferlin

New numbers show obesity in the United States are high, especially among women

The number of Americans who are overweight or obese continues to reach shocking highs, with some estimates that more than two-thirds of American adults are now overweight or obese. Now, a new study reveals that while obesity rates in men have plateaued, rates have continued to rise among women.

The study, published Tuesday in the journal JAMA, reveals that for the years 2013-2014, the obesity prevalence was 35% for men and 40% for women. When looking at trends over time, the researchers found that from the year 2005 to 2014 there were significant and steady increases in the number of American women who were very obese.

Another study also published Tuesday in JAMA by many of the same researchers revealed that over the last 25 years, there has been a slight increase in obesity among young people ages 12 to 19. The prevalence of obesity among kids ages 2 to 5 has gone down, and it has leveled off in kids ages 6 to 11.

“The obesity epidemic in the United States is now three decades old, and huge investments have been made in research, clinical care, and development of various programs to counteract obesity. However, few data suggest the epidemic is diminishing,” Dr. Jody W. Zylke, the deputy editor of JAMA and Dr. Howard Bauchner, the Editor in Chief of JAMA, wrote in a corresponding editorial.

To reach the findings, study authors from the National Center for Health Statistics at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) looked at 2013-2014 data for 2,638 adult men and 2,817 adult women. They also looked at national survey data from 21,013 people who were interviewed from 2005 through 2012.

The number of adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher, which is considered high-risk obesity, was 7.7%. For men specifically it was 5.5% and for women it was 9.9%. BMI is not a perfect measure of health and is based on a person’s weight and height ratio rather than their actual amount of body fat. Still, the numbers are in line with what other studies have reported regarding the state of the obesity epidemic in the United States.

In the editorial, Zylke and Bauchner argue that progress over the last 30 years has been far too slow, and that new methods may need to be adopted: “Perhaps it is time for an entirely different approach, one that emphasizes collaboration with the food and restaurant industries that are in part responsible for putting food on dinner tables,” they write.

ADHD in Children Linked to Adult Obesity. Treatment Prevents it.

A new study conducted by researchers at the Mayo Clinic suggests that female children who suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are more likely to become obese later in life compared to children who do not have the condition.

Kumar and her team discovered that female participants who had ADHD experienced a twofold higher risk for obesity throughout their childhood and adult lives compared to those who did not have the condition.

They also found that children who received stimulant treatment for their ADHD did not experience any increased risk of obesity as a result of the procedure.

Click on the link below or copy and paste the web address to read the article about this study.

Obesity As a Disease

The AMA has officially classified obesity as a disease. Because it is now a recognized disease, it will be more difficult to defend being overweight as OK. Welcoming a disease is not healthy or smart.

While I have been harshly critical of anti-obesity bias, hate and discrimination, I have also faulted “fat acceptance”.  Rather than help overweight people accept themselves while solving their obesity problem, some would have obese people suffer ill health and feel OK while doing nothing to change it. That will be more difficult now. Having a disease without trying to fix it is pathological in itself.

However, we need to remember that the obesity epidemic has been brought on by changes in our culture, environment and behavior. The quadrupling of the obesity rate in children was not caused by something that drugs or surgery will change. Most of the praise of the AMA’s decision is saying it is a good thing because surgery and drugs are more likely to be covered by insurance. The rush to have insurance pay for drugs and surgery to treat obesity needs to be examined. Is it about money or health?

Whether you see a behavior therapist, go to groups like OA or WW, or read science based books like mine,  if you are real overweight, you now need to confront the fact that you have a disease that needs to be addressed. That’s the best outcome of the AMA’s decision to label obesity a disease.