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Obesity in women has gone up, new studies show, while men have gone unchanged

Efforts to combat weight gain seem to have made little difference, editorial says

CNN  — 

There doesn’t appear to be much headway being made in the battle to curb obesity in the United States, according to a pair of studies released Tuesday.

Updated findings show that 35% of men, 40% of women and 17% of children and adolescents are obese, according to two articles published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

These figures remain high in spite of the “hundreds of millions of dollars” that have been pumped into research, trials, observational studies, community and hospital programs, and the development of devices and drugs, said an accompanying JAMA editorial.

There are also the attempts of schools, communities, companies and places of worship to control weight gain, but the country’s three-decades-old obesity epidemic is hanging on strong.

“Although it is impossible to know what the extent of the obesity epidemic would have been without these efforts, the data reported … certainly do not suggest much success,” wrote Dr. Jody Zylke and Dr. Howard Bauchner, the deputy editor and editor in chief, respectively, of JAMA.

Obesity up among women

Relying on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which cuts out the possibility of people self-reporting and lying about their weights or heights, scientists monitor obesity trends because of the real health consequences associated with obesity, explained Cynthia Ogden, one of the authors of the two studies.

One study looked specifically at trends among adults from 2005 to 2014. The results, based on data from more than 2,600 men and 2,800 women, showed that for women, the prevalence of obesity went up, while the prevalence among men remained the same.

In fact, obesity increased by 5% for women over a decade, said Ogden, of the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A body mass index of 30 or more qualified as obese, and a body mass index of 40 or more qualified as class 3 obesity. Nearly 10% of women (up from 7% a decade earlier) and 5.5% of men fit into the class 3 obesity category.

Ogden said she and the other authors looked at race, ethnicity, education level and smoking practices to see whether any of those factors might explain the trends, but nothing did.

Small increase among obesity in teens