Study: Almost 40 Percent of Americans Are Obese

The CDC's latest report classifies 35 percent of men and 40 percent of women as obese.

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A new study from the CDC shows, yet again, the extent to which our nation is struggling with obesity.

By looking at data from the most recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), CDC researchers determined that, as of 2013 to 2014, 37.7 percent of American adults had a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher, meeting the medical definition of obesity.

Broken down by gender, 35 percent of American men and 40 percent of American women were considered obese. The researchers also found that 5.5 percent of American men and roughly 10 percent of American women have a BMI of 40 or above, putting them in the extreme obesity category.

Judging by NHANES data examined since 2005, obesity rates among men have stayed relatively constant, while women have experienced a statistically significant increase in obesity during that time period.

A separate study published Tuesday, also from CDC researchers, found that roughly 17 percent of American children between the ages of 2 and 19 are obese. Almost 6 percent of children were considered extremely obese.

While the CDC study didn’t break down obesity rates by state, the most recent State of Obesity report—which estimated our obesity rate at 23 percent of adults, as of 2014—places Massachusetts well below the CDC’s national average of 37.7 percent. The State of Obesity report also included gender-specific data for Massachusetts as of 2012, which estimated male obesity at 24.7 percent of residents and female obesity at 21.2 percent of residents.

An accompanying editorial calls the CDC’s findings “neither good nor surprising,” but they certainly are staggering. And considering research has shown that prior studies have, somehow, underestimated obesity prevalence, it’s quite possible those numbers will only continue to rise as time goes on.