Obese Americans now account for 38 percent of the population, up from 35 percent as measured in 2011 and 2012, heath officials have confirmed. The new figures were published in the National Health and Nutrition Survey, which is released every two years.
And while the increase is technically small enough to avoid statistical significance, public health officials have expressed disappointment over the data, especially given the number of notable initiatives to improve American diets, like those led by first lady Michelle Obama.
Thanks in part to Obama’s nutrition reforms, in fact, childhood obesity rates actually dropped 43 percent in the last decade among two- to five-year-olds — though those numbers have not helped the overall population.
“The trend is very unfortunate and very disappointing,” Marion Nestle, a noted public health professor at New York University, told the New York Times. “Everybody was hoping that with the decline in sugar and soda consumption, that we’d start seeing a leveling off of adult obesity.”
Most notably, Americans between the ages of 40 to 59 had a 40 percent rate of obesity, followed by 37 percent for people 60 and older, and 32 percent for adults between the ages of 20 and 39.
Among minority groups, the data was even more troubling, indicating vastly different levels of health by racial and socioeconomic divisions. By 2014, for example, roughly 57 percent of black women were obese, followed by Hispanic women at 46 percent, and Hispanic men at 39 percent. Approximately 36 percent of white women were considered obese, and 34 percent of white men.