All people, regardless of age, sex and racial/ethnic group are at risk for being overweight and obese. The rates of excess body weight and obesity have been growing over the last 30 years and according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, almost “70 percent of adult Americans are overweight or obese.” According to the same survey, “about 1 in 6 American children ages 2-19 are obese” and obesity rates have tripled among school-aged children and teens.
Although all sex-racial/ethnic groups are affected by excess weight and/or obesity, there are differences in occurrence rates.
- Overweight and obesity are highest among non-Hispanic Black women (82%)
- Hispanic women are at 76%
- Non-Hispanic White women have the lowest rates at 64%
- Overweight and obesity are highest among Hispanic men (82%)
- Non-Hispanic White men are at 74%
- Non-Hispanic Black men are at 70%
Two numbers are looked at to access an individual’s weight status:
Body Mass Index (BMI)
Measures weight in relation to a person’s height. Based on the score, a person is either considered to be of normal weight (BMI of 18.5 to 24.9), overweight (BMI 25 to 29.9) or obese (BMI of 30 or higher).
Waist Size (in inches)
A person with increased weight around their waist has increased health risks associated with this extra weight. For women, a waist size of more than 35 inches and for men, a waist size of 40 inches puts them at risk for developing diseases related to obesity.
“Obesity happens one pound at a time.” Everyone should develop an understanding of what they weigh and how that weight compares to at risk categories. Developing that understanding can facilitate an individual to make changes in their diet, nutritional intake and exercise pattern.
Information obtained from the National Institutes of Health.