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Facts & Figures

The Shape of the Nation: Fast Facts on Americansí Health

Overweight and Obesity
  • Sixty-two percent of all Americans age 20 and older are overweight or obese. The prevalence of obesity among adults has increased more than 75 percent since 1991.1
  • Overweight and obesity are highest among African-American (77.2%) and Mexican-American (71.7%) females, and Mexican-American (73.1%) males. 2
  • There are more than 9 million overweight children between the ages of 6 and 19. The incidence of overweight among children has doubled -- and among teens has tripled -- since 1980. 3,4
  • Between 70 and 80 percent of overweight children and adolescents continue to be overweight or become obese as adults. 5
  • Poor nutrition, lack of physical activity and being overweight can lead to complications such as elevated blood cholesterol and blood pressure, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis and joint problems, asthma, Type 2 diabetes, depression, anxiety, and sleep apnea. 6

Eating Habits and Trends
  • Research suggests that food eaten away from home, especially fast food, tends to be higher in fat, saturated fat and sodium and lower in fiber. 7
  • Americansí spending on fast food increased 18-fold over the last 30 years, from $6 billion to $110 billion annually. 8
  • During a 15-year study, adults who ate fast food more than twice per week gained 10 pounds more than those who ate fast food less than once a week. 9
  • Between 1977 and 1997, adult consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages increased by 61%. 10

Internet Support of Weight Loss
  • In Web-based weight loss programs, participants receiving tailored expert support11 or a structured behavioral treatment program12 showed significantly greater weight loss than those relying on Internet information alone.
  • Dieters assigned to an internet-based weight maintenance program sustained comparable weight loss over 18 months compared with those who continued to meet face-to-face. 13
  • Supplementing a dynamic, socially supportive Internet weight-loss treatment with monthly in-person meetings did not result in greater weight losses over 12 months than those relying on Internet support alone. 14
  • Adding e-mail counseling to a basic Internet weight loss intervention program significantly improved weight loss in adults at risk of diabetes. 15

  • The majority of American adults (54.1%) do not engage in the recommended minimum amount of physical activity (30 minutes per day of moderate activity, 5 days per week or 20 minutes per day of vigorous activity, 3 days per week, as recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association). 16,17

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