* "Extreme" obesity on the rise
* Overall steady rate comes after 30 years of rising obesity
* Arkansas only U.S. state to show increase
By Susan Heavey
WASHINGTON, Aug 16 Obesity levels among adults
appear to be holding steady across the United States, adding to
recent evidence that the growth rate for U.S. waistlines is
slowing, according to an analysis released on Friday.
But within the holding pattern there is a dramatic rise in
"extreme" obesity among adults and children.
The annual "F as in Fat" report from the Trust for America's
Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that the
proportion of adults who are extremely obese - at least 100
pounds (45.4 kilograms) overweight - has risen over the last
three decades from 1.4 percent in the late 1970s to 6.3 percent
That is about a 350 percent increase, researchers for the
health nonprofit groups said. About 5 percent of children and
teenagers are also now severely obese, they added. Rates of
extreme obesity were nearly twice as high for women as for men,
and were also particularly high for Hispanic boys and black
Overall, the report found obesity rates stabilizing across
the United States, though at historically high levels with
nearly 36 percent of all U.S adults obese as of 2010. Only one
state, Arkansas, had an increase in obesity levels.
The findings follow signs of progress earlier this month
after U.S. officials announced small but promising declines in
the obesity rate among low-income children between the ages of 2
and 4, after 30 years of increases.
"After decades of bad news, we're finally seeing signs of
progress," researchers for the two health groups wrote in
Their analysis, also based on data from the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention, however, underscored America's
continuing battle with weight.
"While stable rates of adult obesity may signal prevention
efforts are starting to yield some results, the rates remain
extremely high," Trust for America's Health Executive Director
Jeffrey Levi said in a statement.
Obesity rates were highest in the South and Midwest in
states including Louisiana, Mississippi and Oklahoma.
In addition to geographic differences, rates were higher for
people with less education and lower incomes, it found.
Rates for those ages 45 to 64, the bulk of the so-called
Baby Boomer generation, were also a concern as their obesity
rates were 30 percent or higher in 41 states. In Alabama and
Louisiana, their rate reached 40 percent.
Increasingly heavy men also narrowed the obesity gender gap.
"Ten years ago, the obesity rate for women was significantly
higher than the rate for men," 33.4 percent compared to 27.5
percent, researchers wrote. Now, their "rates are essentially
the same" at nearly 36 percent, they said.
Obesity is commonly measured by body mass index (BMI), a
measure of one's height to weight. A BMI score of 30 or more is
defined as obese, while extreme obesity is a score of 40 or
higher. A score of 25 to 29 is considered overweight.