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Obesity Rates in the US to Reach 42 Percent, Study Says

This is truly sad news: obesity in America will continue to grow until 42 percent of its adults are obese. This prediction comes from a team of Harvard researchers who applied a mathematical model to four decades of data from the Framingham study — a long-running and ongoing look at the health and habits of American adults.

Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that it believes that the obesity epidemic has already peaked at 34 percent, but the Harvard team disagrees. They say it will continue to grow steadily and slowly over the next 40 years because of three factors: social relationships, personal habits like diet and exercise, and the rate at which obese people lose weight. Of the three, social networks play a much larger role than previously thought. Like other epidemics, the team argues, obesity can spread between friends; people start to change their perception of what a healthy weight is based on who they come in contact with and this affects their own lifestyle choices. This may be impacted even more by an earlier study that says obese people don't view themselves as overweight.

I personally hope the Harvard team is wrong, but with 34 percent of our country already obese, now is the time for real action — not hope — from all levels. Weight is definitely a subject that has become taboo in our country, but if you know someone who falls into this category, or perhaps this is you, I urge you to find a way to help lower this statistic.

Image Source: Getty
Join The Conversation
danakscully64 danakscully64 6 years
I admit I'm a sucker for Amy's Kitchen frozen meals, but I buy them when they go on sale for about $3 at Target :) They contain no MSG, eggs, meat, trans fat, or preservatives. Many, like the Veggie loaf, are full of fiber so they keep me full. $3 for a complete meal, cheaper and healthier than driving through and buying a combo meal.
gaelgirl gaelgirl 6 years
^^^THIS^^^ stay far far away from packaged food. a "healthy" frozen meal is gonna be at least 3 times the cost of a normal one. make it yourself.
danakscully64 danakscully64 6 years
"my grocery bills have doubled since I started eating healthier" I find that weird when people say that because I cut my bill in half when I started eating healthy (and went vegetarian). I started buying things like lentils, rice, beans (cheaper than meat, no cholesterol, no saturated fat, full of fiber), fruits and veggies that were in season, checked weekly ads and planned meals around sale items, and used coupons. It didn't take much time at all either. Also, avoiding convenience foods is ideal. A pre-chopped bag of lettuce may be about $3.99 when you can get the lettuce head (same amount) for half that. It adds up.
gaelgirl gaelgirl 6 years
@bellakaoru - i completely agree w/ you. when i mentioned giving my friends advice, these were friends who were ASKING for help, but preferred to take the scary & unhealthy methods (offered up by other overweight friends) to drop weight (yo yoing) instead of my advice to stop mainlining soda & eating fast food 2-3 times a day (not exaggerating), but that was labeled extreme. it's NOT easy to get healthy, & i can assure you it can be affordable & i promise a gym is not needed. you'll make it b/c you have the right attitude. keep trying. i dropped 40 lbs & 10 sizes a few years ago. it's hard, it takes time, but it'll be worth all the struggle when you feel healthy again. i promise! i don't believe this post was about social pressure or rights, but more of how something, even a dangerous something that's killing our loved ones (ie: smoking, obesity, binge drinking, etc), can gain acceptance as harmless when we see it enough. a lack of nutrition (in either direction) is alarming & i wish there was more that could be done to help.
bellakaoru bellakaoru 6 years
These are some very interesting comments. I'm one of these statistics, though I'm working towards changing that. Just to show my point of view- I am very sensitive about it- the weight came on during a painful period in my life and not begin able to conquer "don't eat junk and take a walk" to lose it makes me feel like a failure. I'd be offended if a thin friend started giving unsolicited advice- although I don't have any thin friends, but that’s a whole other post. It's true that it's often cheaper and easier to choose unhealthy foods- my grocery bills have doubled since I started eating healthier, and it's always an effort to get to the gym. I'm doing it because that's what’s right for me. All in all it'd be nicer if there were more balanced choices available, but everyone has the right to chose how they want to live. Cultural pressures from both sides be damned, it's down to the individual to make themselves who they want to be.
mondaymoos mondaymoos 6 years
I'm satisfied that I'll always be in the happy medium. The only thing I love more than working out is beer and food and I'm not going to live my life obsessing over whether I fall into a norm, whether that's a 0, a 2 or a vintage 8. I am puzzled at how a person who falls into the obese category doesn't see themselves as "overweight", though. I have a weight-limit I've imposed on myself when I know it's time to clean up my diet a little.
michlny michlny 6 years
mislilad - GOOD for you!!
tlsgirl tlsgirl 6 years
I agree with other commenters that it's pretty much impossible to speak up. Heck, the word "fat" is pretty much a swear word at this point. For myself, I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing and maybe it'll set a healthy example for someone out there.
TiVo TiVo 6 years
Yes, "normal" is certainly changing. I am a size 0 or 2, depending on the store, yet I tried on my grandmother's old 1970-something jumpsuit that was a size 8. I couldn't hardly get it over my hips, much less zip the thing! Sizes, perceptions, and national averages have all changed. My personal opinion is that people are drawn to extremes. Just because a person is not fit enough to run a marathon or thin enough to appear in a VS advertisement, they almost think it's not worth it. There should be more attainable inspirational figures out there that might actually inspire people, not just turn them off. (On a side note, mad props to you marathoners out there!)
misslilad misslilad 6 years
i will admit that until this year i was one of these statistics. i have lost 76 pounds with just a few to go to goal weight. i never thought i would ever get that big, but i lived in a state of denial for a long time. i changed my eating habits and started walking to and from work. these little things made a huge difference. having been successful in my weight loss journey makes me want to help these obese women whom i work with but i know i cannot say anything b/c it would hurt their feelings. the only thing i can do is tell them what i have done when they ask me about my weight loss and hope that it might inspire them
Miss-Bree Miss-Bree 6 years
I completely agree that who you're surrounded by makes a huge difference in your perception of "overweight." I live in very healthy Colorado, where an active lifestyle is almost hard to avoid. But I recently stayed with family in L.A. who have always struggled with their weight and are significantly obese. To them, I was skinny and crazy for even ever thinking about my weight in a negative way (I wasn't very active there so I gained about 10lbs and lost some muscle.) I really didn't like this change in my lifestyle and body, but when I brought up my need to exercise more and cut back on the lavish fattening dinners, it was as though I had personally attacked them. I really never figured out a remedy to this.
Francoisehardly Francoisehardly 6 years
People can call a size 10 "skinny" all they want. I'm going to keep eating a decent amount of veggies and other good foods and am going to keep trying to exercise regularly, even if I hate being sweaty. And it's kind of ridiculous that people assume people have to be unhealthy to be a healthy weight. That's what eating right, using portion control and exercise is for.
benheld benheld 6 years
Yes, individual accountability is important, but it's also up to all of us to create a culture where being healthy is an easier choice then it is now. Call me an optimist, but I don't think 42% of us are just lazy, uneducated obese people. There's larger forces at play here that make being overweight the cheaper, more convenient choice. Speaking up for health doesn't have to take the form of lecturing someone on how to lose weight. It can be raising awareness about food deserts, volunteering for great organizations like Girls on the Run, lobbying for changes in school lunch programs, or starting a walking lunch club at work.
gaelgirl gaelgirl 6 years
i really think the main problem here is a change to what is viewed as normal. in the last town i lived in, i heard people comment that a size 10 was skinny. so, suddenly plus sized is normal & no cause for alarm. & i'm not talking proportional sexy christina hendricks bodies here (she's hot). i'm talking overweight. so, when being big is "normal" being healthy is weird & people assume you do freaky unhealthy stuff to keep in shape. i actually had someone tell me that they could be skinny like me, but they wanted to put that time into volunteering, when i actually do it more than her. when unbalanced becomes the "normal", balanced, healthy lifestyles look extreme.
danakscully64 danakscully64 6 years
I agree with gaelgirl, how are we supposed to speak up? People get REALLY defensive over their eating habits/lifestyle. When I try to direct my nieces and nephews to make better choices (citing that the 3 cups of cereal they pour has more sugar than a soda), I get yelled at by my sister (none are overweight, but it's good to start early and educate kids on why they shouldn't eat certain foods). A close friend of mine is about 40 pounds overweight and she complains about her size, but when she asks for advice, she doesn't take it. She would rather starve herself or purge (doesn't work and is unhealthy). Often people just want to live their lives and don't care about themselves or the cost to others. You can only do so much if people won't take responsibility and want to change.
gaelgirl gaelgirl 6 years
i don't understand how i'm supposed to speak up! if i say anything to a "normal" person they just yell some crap about how real women are curvy & label me a "skinny b****". i try to give my over weight friends advice b/c i've stayed fit my whole life, but they only want to take advice from other overweight people. only ONE has listened to my advice & she's dropped weight like crazy. exactly HOW are we healthy people supposed to speak up?????
Carri Carri 6 years
I don't understand what part of "don't eat junk and take a walk" people don't understand. It seems like everyone wants that quick fix that will never be available. Maybe I sound insensitive, but I really don't want to be sensitive. Most of these people are overweight because of THEIR doing and they need to take responsibility.
Spectra Spectra 6 years
This makes me sad. I don't think obesity levels will ever reach a point where everyone is obese, only because there are always going to be people that care about their health and weight and will watch what they eat. But 42% is an extremely high level of obesity, even if you do take into account the fact that they are going by BMI, which can misclassify you according to your weight.
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