- A stable weight depends on a balance between the energy you get from food and the energy you use.
- When a person consumes more calories than the energy they use, the body stores the extra calories in fat cells.
- Obesity is determined by measuring body fat, not just body weight.
- People might be over the weight limit for normal standards, but if they are very muscular with low body fat, they are not obese.
The US Preventive Services Task Force released new recommendations in January 2010 that children be screened for obesity at age 6, and referred to weight management programs if needed at that time.
Overweight Epidemic in Children
According to the U.S. Preventive Services Taskforce, between 12% and 18% of children and adolescents (aged 2 - 19) are obese.
Obesity and Overweight in the United States
- The prevalence of obesity in America has risen dramatically over the past few years and continues to increase.
- According to the latest figures available, 33.8% of American adults (aged 20 and older) are obese (BMI over 30) -- up from about 23% in the early 1990s.
- The number of Americans aged 20 - 74 who were overweight or obese also increased from about 44.8% in 1960 to 68.0% in 2008.
- Enough food is produced in the US to supply 3,800 calories every day to each man, woman, and child in the country.
- People are not only eating more food than they did 20 years ago but also replacing home cooking with packaged foods, fast food, and dining out.
- Fast foods tend to be served in larger portions. They generally contain more calories and unhealthy fats, and fewer nutritious ingredients, than homemade or restaurant meals.
The weight loss drug sibutramine (Meridia) is no longer on the market because of a higher risk for heart attack and strokes.
Review Date: 04/14/2010
Reviewed By: A.D.A.M. Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, and David R. Eltz. Previously reviewed by Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital (4/14/2010).