Rates Increased Slightly Among Teens

Published in June/July Issue             

New research from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows between 2013 and 2014, a record number of women had obesity -- about 40 percent. Rates of obesity among men on the other, while still high at 35 percent have remained the same since 2012, the last time the census was conducted. This leaves an overall obesity rate among adults of about 38 percent – nearly 8 percent had severe obesity, including 5.5 percent of men and almost 10 percent of women.

“Our study didn't look at why, we just looked at the trends to see what was happening. More research is needed to determine the reasons for the continuing obesity epidemic,” Cynthia Ogden, an epidemiologist at the CDC told WebMD in a story about the study.

A second study found the prevalence of the disease among teens has doubled in just one generation. Among children and adolescents, 17 percent had obesity in 2011-2014, while nearly 5.8 percent had severe obesity. Both studies were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Raul Rosenthal, MD

“Obesity remains the number one public health threat in America,” said Raul J. Rosenthal, MD, president of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS). “New treatment strategies are required. We cannot continue to do the same things and expect different results. Greater access to proven treatments like bariatric surgery are necessary and must become a routine part of the discussion between patients and their doctors. This is not a subject to be avoided.”

An accompanying editorial by Jody W. Zylke, MD, deputy editor and Howard Bauchner, editor-in-chief, JAMA, comments on the “unrelenting challenge of obesity.” The authors write, “numerous foundations, industries, professional societies, and governmental agencies have provided hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to support basic science research in obesity, clinical trials and observational studies, development of new drugs and devices, and hospital and community programs to stem the tide of the obesity epidemic.” Despite this, the latest data “certainly do not suggest much success.”

The study, “Trends in Obesity Prevalence Among Children and Adolescents in the United States, 1988-1994 Through 2013-2014” included data from 40,780 children. The study found, the younger the child, the lower the risk of obesity. About 9 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 5 had obesity, while 18 percent of those between 6 and 11 and 21% of adolescents between 12 and 19 had the disease. African-American children had a 34 percent higher risk for obesity and Latino children had a 48 percent higher risk.

Thomas H. Inge, MD, PhD

“The most concerning finding is the rapid increase in extreme pediatric obesity, now affecting 4-5 million children. Particularly worrisome is the 3-fold rise in severe obesity in adolescents over the last 2 decades,” said Thomas H. Inge, MD, PhD, Professor of Surgery and Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. “Interventions at neither the population nor individual levels have reversed this worrisome trend. And importantly, the obesity numbers only tell part of the story: obesity related health problems like diabetes and high blood pressure will limit their quality of life, be costly to treat, and result in shortened lifespan for many.”

Dr. Inge further explained, “A staged treatment approach—already supported by major pediatric and other specialty groups -- that includes pharmacologic and surgical treatments may provide greater success in reversing severe obesity and complications of obesity.”