Study Shows Abdominal Obesity Has Increased in Past Decade

The overall age-adjusted mean waist circumference in U.S. adults has increased progressively and significantly over the past decade, according to a research letter published Sept. 16 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Seeking to provide updated information about the trends in mean waist circumference and the prevalence of abdominal obesity among adults in the U.S. from 1999 to 2012, Earl Ford, MD, MPH, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, and his co-authors analyzed data from seven two-year cycles of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

Defining abdominal obesity as a waist circumference greater than 102 cm in men and greater than 88 cm in women, results showed that among 32,816 men and non-pregnant women, mean waist circumference rose from 95.5 cm (95 percent CI, 94.2-96.8 cm) in 1999-2000 to 98.5 cm (95 percent CI, 97.5-99.4 cm) in 2011-2012. Particularly large increases between the initial and concluding surveys were observed in non-Hispanic white women aged 40 to 49 years (6.6 cm), Mexican American men aged 20 to 29 years (8.7 cm), non-Hispanic black men aged 30 to 39 years (8.1 cm), Mexican American women aged 70 years or older (11.2 cm), and non-Hispanic black women aged 30 to 39 years (11.6 cm).  Percentage-wise the overall age-adjusted prevalence of abdominal obesity increased from 46.4 percent (95 percent CI, 42.1 percent-50.8 percent) in 1999-2000 to 54.2 percent (95 percent CI, 51.3 percent-57.0 percent) in 2011-2012.

The authors note that while previously analyses of the data from NHANES had shown that the prevalence of obesity calculated from body mass index did not show significant change, this new study points out that the prevalence of obesity has not plateaued, but has continued to expand.

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