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31% of U.S. Adults and 15% of Youth Are Obese, Survey Finds

October 09, 2002|From Associated Press

CHICAGO — Americans are even fatter than they think they are, with nearly a third of all adults -- almost 59 million people -- rated obese in a disturbing new government survey based on actual body measurements.

One in five Americans, or 19.8%, had considered themselves obese in a 2000 survey based on people's own assessments of their girth.

The new 1999-2000 survey puts the real number at 31% -- a doubling over the last two decades. The new number is considered more reliable since people consistently underestimate their weight.

"The problem keeps getting worse," said Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson. "This has profound health implications."

In addition, a measurement-based survey of young people found that 15% of youngsters ages 6 to 19 were seriously overweight. That is nearly 9 million youths and triple the number in a similar assessment from 1980.

The findings appear in today's Journal of the American Medical Assn. The results come from nationally representative surveys of 4,115 adults and 4,722 children.

Obesity is defined as having a body mass index of 30 or higher. The index is a measure of weight relative to height.

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