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NPR: "obesity epidemic" has peaked

This, from NPR: Obesity Epidemic May Have Peaked In U.S.

"These data basically show than we haven't seen any change probably since back to 2003-4 in obesity in any group," said Cynthia Ogden of the National Center for Health Statistics, which released the latest data and published two papers online in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association. One paper focused on adults while the second focused on children.

This has been common knowledge in the fat acceptance movement for a while now. Those who are still claiming that Americans are getting heavier generally have a financial or personal stake in believing that, and are using old or suspect (if any) data.

Some researchers are saying...

"We've seen some very effective changes that are occurring in schools and at the societal level in terms of food labeling, economic incentives, behavioral strategies," says Penny Gordon-Larsen, an obesity researcher at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Hum. I cant remember reading anything suggesting that those strategies are effective at making people thinner, though I suppose that here they're just trying to take credit for average BMIs remaining stable. It could just as easily be because people have begun to reject dieting, and dieting often leads to long term weight gain. Yes, I wouldn't be surprised if fat acceptance is playing a role in Americans' average size stabilizing.

Others are saying...

It's also possible that we're reached a kind of new normal, with the proportion of population who is predisposed to obesity having already become obese, says Harvard's David Ludwig, a specialist in treating overweight kids.

...and there may be some truth in that.

It ends with a quote from Dr. Glenn Gaesser, author of "Fat Lies."

"Most people who lose weight will ultimately regain it. If you do this do over and over and over again you develop a nation of weight-cyclers, a yo-yo-dieting society and there are risks associated with yo-yo dieting that are every bit as hazardous as the risks associated with just being fat."

Wow! It's not the usual "But fat people should diet anyway" ending. If it weren't for the headless fatties illustrating the article, it would seem almost unbiased.

Of course, if the government and medical establishment really want to play a role in lowering obesity rates, they could just do the opposite of what they did in 1999. Instead of redefining "obesity" to a lower BMI, they could redefine it to a higher BMI - one that actually reflects serious health risks and increased mortality. Better yet, they could stop trying to use body size as a proxy for health and instead treat it as one physical characteristic among many.

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loniemc January 19th, 2012 | Link | I'm actually surprised that

I'm actually surprised that it has peaked with all the dieting going on. The peak makes me think that the baby boomers may have had more of an influence than I thought. We know that people gain weight in their 50s and 60s. We know that the baby boomers are about 1/4 of the population. I have suspected for awhile that this group might have been part of the reason for the real increase in weight -- the small true increase in weight, not the big fake one manufactured by redefining obesity.

If this is the case, in about 10 years we will see the population start declining in weight, since most people in their 70s and 80s lose weight.

Interesting thought!

DeeLeigh's picture
January 20th, 2012 | Link | I agree that's likely part

I agree that's likely part of the explanation. However, my mom's at the leading edge of the baby boom (she was born in 1945), and she's 66. Baby boomers are still at an age where they're likely gaining weight. However, the levelling off of average BMI started almost ten years ago, so there's got to be more at play here.

richie79's picture
January 20th, 2012 | Link | I would say that maybe the

I would say that maybe the huge explosion in the popularity of WLS could be partially responsible for significant losses in the groups with the highest BMIs, in turn skewing some of the average figures, but again that didn't really get going until 2005-6 so wouldn't explain a plateau which began before that point. Ditto the effects of the economic recession on malnutrition rates, though combined with skyrocketing prices on 'healthy' and more processed foods alike it certainly wouldn't surprise me if it were having an impact on more recent trends.

As you point out Deeleigh, I would be interested to know if they factored in the 1998 adjustment of the BMI thresholds in the huge rises in measured obesity during the late 1990s. Given that it's based on NHANES I would hope so, but the fact that the article talks about the proportion defined as falling into the obese category, rather than going by the actual BMI numbers, gives some cause for doubt. It certainly seems to be a factor that's frequently overlooked (or moer likely, deliberately ignored to inflate the figures).

"What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right" - Albert Einstein

loniemc January 20th, 2012 | Link | I agree, Dee, that it is

I agree, Dee, that it is most likely complicated and mufti-faceted -- like everything else surrounding fat. I will be interested in the trends when HAES catches on.

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