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July 20, 1994

The Fattening of America

Author Affiliations

From the Obesity Research Center and the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Nutrition, St Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY.

JAMA. 1994;272(3):238-239. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03520030080033

The article by Kuczmarski et al1 in this issue of THE JOURNAL reports a disquieting increase over 12 years in the prevalence of overweight among US adults. The data reported originate from the most recent of four national cross-sectional surveys that were performed from 1960 through 1962, 1971 through 1974,1976 through 1980, and 1988 through 1991. The overall increase in the prevalence of overweight since the 1976 through 1980 survey has been 8%.

Not only is the occurrence of obesity in the United States stunningly high (more than 30% in all groups), it is particularly so among women and among minority groups. Also, alarmingly, it is continuing to increase. This is of concern because increasing obesity is associated with greater morbidity and higher mortality.2 Disease incidences that rise with increasing weight include diabetes mellitus, hypertension, dyslipidemia, cardiovascular disease, stroke, gout, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, and some forms of cancer.