US obesity fell (slightly) last year

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Obesity

Are weight loss efforts working?
Are weight loss efforts working?
The number of obese adults in the United States declined slightly in 2011, according to a new Gallup poll, from 26.6% of the population in 2010 to 26.1%.

The researcher said that the decline was largely due to more people reporting a normal weight – 36.1% in 2011, compared to 35.4% in 2010 – while the number of overweight Americans showed little change, suggesting an overall downward shift in body weights.

Although the 0.5% move in the obesity rate is a slight change, the result is significant because of the enormous cost to society of obesity-related illness and disease, Gallup said.

“The slight drop in America's obesity rate is a positive reversal of what was previously a negative trend. The cost of obesity is so high that even this small improvement has the potential to save the American economy a significant amount of money,”​ its report said. “…But with more than one in four adults still obese, the nation has a long way to go to achieve lasting change.”

Gallup said its own research has found obesity and associated health issues to cost about $153bn each year, but figures vary widely. A December 2010 estimate from the Society of Actuaries suggested the total cost the US economy could be as high as $270bn a year.

Gallup’s findings are based on data from its Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which has included self-reported information on body weight for a random sample of American adults since 2008. The 2011 poll included data from more than 335,000 US adults from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Whether a person was considered obese, overweight or normal weight was determined according to body mass index (BMI), a ratio of height to weight.

Demographic groups most prone to obesity were blacks, low-income Americans and those aged 45-64, the study found.

Related topics Markets The obesity problem

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