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Obesity Rate Rising

U.S. Obesity Rate Rising

Nearly four out of 10 adults in the USA will be obese within five years if people keep packing on pounds at the current rate – putting their health at risk, says one of the top obesity researchers.

Currently, about 31%, or about 59 million people, are obese, which is defined as roughly 30 or more pounds over a healthy weight. Almost 65% are either obese or overweight, 10 to 30 pounds over a healthy weight, which increases their chances of developing diabetes, heart disease, some types of cancer and a host of other health problems.

The medical costs associated with treating these diseases will strain the health care system and economy in the years to come, experts say.

Americans are gaining one to two pounds a year, says James Hill, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver. Hill predicts that, at the current rate, 39% of Americans will be obese by 2008.

He’s one of several national weight-loss experts who offer possible solutions to the obesity epidemic in Friday’s journal Science. This report comes on the heels of a landmark report in January that showed being obese shaves seven years off a person’s life, and just being overweight shortens a person’s life span by about three years.

To stop gaining weight, people need to either burn 100 calories more a day with physical activity or eat 100 calories less every day, Hill says. They could cut back a little on portions, skip one soda or walk one extra mile a day, which would take about 15 to 20 minutes, he says.

“This isn’t going to cause you to lose a lot of weight, but it’s going to keep you from gaining any more.”

Source: Harvard Medical School. February, 2003

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