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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - If people keep gaining weight at the current rate, fat will be the norm by 2015, with 75 percent of U.S. adults overweight and 41 percent obese, U.S. researchers predicted on Wednesday.
A team at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore examined 20 studies published in journals and looked at national surveys of weight and behavior for their analysis, published in the journal Epidemiologic Reviews.
"Obesity is a public health crisis. If the rate of obesity and overweight continues at this pace, by 2015, 75 percent of adults and nearly 24 percent of U.S. children and adolescents will be overweight or obese," Dr. Youfa Wang, who led the study, said in a statement.
They defined adult overweight and obesity using a standard medical definition called body mass index. People with a BMI of 25 or above are considered overweight, while those with BMIs of 30 or above are obese and at serious risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.
Studies show that 66 percent of U.S. adults were overweight or obese in 2003 and 2004. An alarming 80 percent of black women aged 40 or over are overweight and 50 percent are obese.
Sixteen percent of U.S. children and adolescents are overweight and 34 percent are at risk of becoming overweight, according to federal government figures.
Every group is steadily getting heavier, Wang said.
"Our analysis showed patterns of obesity or overweight for various groups of Americans," said May Beydoun, who worked on the study.
"Obesity is likely to continue to increase, and if nothing is done, it will soon become the leading preventable cause of death in the United States."