Market researchers have estimated that Americans spend more than $60 billion a year on gym memberships, exercise equipment, weight-loss programs and other diet aids. The latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest they’ve been wasting their money.
Despite an intensive effort on the part of the agency, along with doctors, health insurers, employers and, yes, spouses, the proportion of American adults who are obese keeps going up. According to the latest two-year figures from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 37.7 percent of adults in the country in 2013 and 2014 had a body mass index of 30 or higher.
The prevalence of obesity was greater among women than men (38.3 percent versus 34.3 percent), and the most alarming rates were found among minorities. According to the study, 56.9 percent of black women were obese in the most recent two-year period, followed by Hispanic women, where the figure was 45.7 percent, and Hispanic men, 39 percent of whom were obese.
Although the change in the two-year period from 2011 and 2012 was small — it then was 34.9 percent — public health officials were disappointed that a decrease in sugared soda consumption and other changes in dietary habits have not capped or reversed the escalating rate of obesity.
The same statistical analysis released on Thursday gave a brighter picture for the nation’s children. Although 17 percent of those ages 2 through 19 were obese, that is the same figure as 2003 and 2004.
If American children are doing a better job of keeping off the excess weight, it is time for parents to take a lesson from their offspring.