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Health feature: For the first time, more than 4 in 10 U.S. women are obese

The nation's obesity epidemic continues to grow, led by an alarming increase among women. For the first time, more than 4 in 10 U.S. women are obese, according to statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on June 7.
AP photo | AP

NEW YORK — The nation’s obesity epidemic continues to grow, led by an alarming increase among women. For the first time, more than 4 in 10 U.S. women are obese, according to new government health statistics.

Obesity rates for men and women in the U.S. had been roughly the same for about a decade. But in recent years, women have surged ahead and now just more than 40 percent of women are obese, compared to 35 percent of men.

The percentages were reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in two articles published online by the Journal of the American Medical Association. The numbers are based on a small government survey that is considered the best measure of the nation’s obesity problem.



Though it is not altogether surprising to health researchers because the nation has long been growing more obese, it is “scary” that the statistic has reached 40 percent for women, said Dana Hunnes, a dietitian who sees obese patients at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles.

“It’s a really alarming figure, and it’s alarming that it’s continuing to go up despite government calls to action on weight loss and healthy eating,” she said.



Weighty Mystery

Why the problem is getting worse for women faster than for men remains somewhat of a mystery to health researchers.

“I don’t know if anyone truly knows for sure,” Hunnes said. Experts say there are a range of possible explanations, including that many women are satisfied with a larger body size.



The rate of obesity in women is also higher than in men across the world, although far lower overall than in the U.S. According to the World Health Organization, 15 percent of women worldwide and 11 percent of men are obese.


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