Environmental Challenges and Assessment

Authored by: Suzanne Phelan , Gary D. Foster

Handbook of Nutrition and Food

Print publication date:  July  2013
Online publication date:  April  2016

Print ISBN: 9781466505711
eBook ISBN: 9781466505728
Adobe ISBN:


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The prevalence of obesity in the United States has increased dramatically since the 1970s. Data from the 2007–2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) show that 69% of the adult population in the United States is currently overweight, which is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) greater than 25 kg/m2, compared with 46% in NHANES I, conducted between 1971 and 1974 (Figure 42.1). 1 4 The prevalence of obesity, defined as BMI greater than 30 kg/m2, has also increased dramatically, from 14% in 1971–1974 to 36% in 2007–2010 (Figure 42.1). 3 , 5 , 6 Since 2003, obesity prevalence appears to have more or less plateaued, 7 while severe obesity rates have increased with no evidence of slowing. 8 Based on prevalence data over the past few decades, Finkelstein et al. 9 predicted that over the next two decades obesity prevalence would increase by 33% and severe obesity by 130%. Children are also affected, with the prevalence of obesity in children and adolescents near tripling since the early 1970s (from 6% to 17%) (Figure 42.2). The World Health Organization has declared obesity as one of the top 10 risk conditions in the world and one of the top 5 in developed nations. 10

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