By Joi Preciphs/Bloomberg
Washington: The proportion of Americans who are 100 pounds or more overweight grew at twice the rate of all levels of obesity, challenging theories that the most extreme category represents isolated cases, a study found.
The incidence of obesity grew 52% from 2000 to 2005 at the highest weight and body mass levels, according to the study by economist Ronald Sturm at Rand Corp., a nonprofit research organization based in Santa Monica, California. That compares with a 24% increase overall.
The results indicate that the surge in stomach-shrinking operations alone won’t be enough to lessen the health effects of severe obesity, Sturm wrote. Obesity causes complications including heart disease, stroke and diabetes, and a Toronto-based research firm last month estimated that US sales of medical services, devices and equipment related to excess weight probably will grow to more than $1 billion by 2011.
“Morbid obesity, far from being a pathological condition that only affects a fixed percentage of genetically vulnerable individuals, appears to be an integral part” of weight trends in the US, Sturm said in the study.
Reports of trends in obesity have underestimated the consequences to public health, he said today in a telephone interview. The incidence of severe obesity also might be even higher because the study relied on participants who reported their weight and height in CDC telephone surveys from 1986 to 2005, called the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.
“The traditional clinical approach of targeting high-risk cases, in particular bariatric surgery, is only temporary,” as a solution, Sturm wrote in the study.
Bariatric surgery reduces the capacity of the stomach or intestines, limiting the amount of food a person can eat. The average annual number of such procedures increased more than ninefold from 1996-1998 to 2002-2004, according to the Atlanta- based US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A March study by the Millennium Research Group in Toronto estimated the number of extremely obese people in the US will increase to 13 million by 2011, from 11 million in 2006. About 33% of US adults were obese in 2004, up from 15% before 1980, the CDC said.