ad info

 Diet & Fitness

 Headline News brief
 daily almanac
 CNN networks
 CNN programs
 on-air transcripts
 news quiz

CNN Websites
 video on demand
 video archive
 audio on demand
 news email services
 free email accounts
 desktop headlines

 message boards




Study: Americans fatter than ever and getting even fatter


Obesity termed major public health threat

May 28, 1998
Web posted at: 11:02 p.m. EDT (0302 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In spite of diet pills, the fitness craze and more detailed nutrition labels on food, Americans are fatter than ever, and the authors of a new study say if the trend continues, virtually every U.S. adult will be overweight in a few generations.

"The trend will continue. There is no indication that it will turn around. Actually, it seems to be getting worse," said nutritionist James Hill of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, the study's lead author.

The study, reported in the most recent edition of the journal Science, shows that 54 percent of all adults in the United States are overweight. That percentage has increased by about a third in the last 20 years. The study also shows that 22 percent of U.S. adults are obese.

And more heavy adults could be on the way because more than 25 percent of today's children are overweight or obese, the study showed -- a level that has risen 40 percent over the last 16 years.

  Obesity in the U.S.
  • 54% are overweight
  • 22% are obese
  • 25% are overweight or obese

Hill blames the environment in which Americans live. He says there is too much food available, social situations encourage overeating, restaurants compete with each other by offering bigger and bigger servings and technology has made it possible to avoid exercise.

"Becoming obese is a normal response to the American environment," Hill said. "If the environment continues to encourage high (food) intake and low activity, then we'll all be overweight."

Indeed, Hill says that the obesity epidemic is a major public health threat, and he says there needs to be a change in public policy to combat it.

"I think we have got to realize that yelling at people louder is not going to get them to do things," Hill said.

Among his suggestions:

  • Increase the sense of urgency about controlling obesity among both the public and health care workers. Despite clear evidence that obesity poses a major health threat, "It remains low on the list of important public health problems," Hill said.

  • Require school children to have at least 30 minutes of vigorous physical activity daily.

  • Encourage physical exercise, perhaps even awarding people with reduced insurance premiums or additional vacation time.

  • Encourage restaurants not to use food portions as a competitive issue because people generally will eat all that they are served.

  • Increase the availability of low-fat foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and make processed low-fat foods as tasty as high-fat versions.

  • To head off a future fat generation, parents must set an example. "Parents are role models," Hill said. "We sit on the couch, eat our high-fat foods, and then tell our kids to eat right and go out and exercise. That doesn't work."

Medical Correspondent Dr. Steve Salvatore and Reuters contributed to this report.

Related stories:
Latest Headlines

Today on CNN

Related sites:

Note: Pages will open in a new browser window

External sites are not
endorsed by CNN Interactive.

Enter keyword(s)   go    help


Back to the top
© 2000 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.