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About 40 percent of US adults are obese, leading to health concerns, CDC survey shows

A new government study found the rate for severe obesity in adults has doubled over the past two decades.
(Getty/Tero Vesalainen)

NEW YORK (AP) — A new government survey finds that about 40 percent of American adults are obese and nearly 1 in every 10 are severely obese.

Those findings were released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They come from a 2017-2018 health survey that measures height and weight. More than 5,000 U.S. adults took part in the survey.

In the last two decades, the obesity rate has risen from 30.5 percent to 42.4 percent. Meanwhile, the severe obesity rate has doubled over that same time frame, going from 4.7 percent in 1999-2000 to 9.2 percent in the latest data. The study found obesity overall among men and women was the lowest among Asian adults at 17.4 percent, but African American adults had the highest prevalence of obesity at 49.6 percent.

The survey found that obesity was the highest among adults aged 40 to 59 compared to other adult age groups.

Obesity, which means not merely being overweight, but seriously overweight, is considered one of the nation's leading public health problems. Obesity is measured by the Body Mass Index, which is measured from a person's weight and height. A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is normal or a "healthy weight." A BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight. However, a BMI of more than 30.0 is considered obese.

One obesity expert says the findings suggest that more Americans will get diabetes, heart disease and cancer. He also says it will be increasingly difficult for doctors to care for so many severely obese people.

A study from Harvard and George Washington universities released last December said nearly half of American adults will be obese by 2030 and one-quarter will be severely so.

View the full study here.