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America is fat - and getting fatter

Published time: May 08, 2012 20:02
Edited time: May 09, 2012 00:02
During a workout at a gym. (REUTERS / Rick Wilking)

During a workout at a gym. (REUTERS / Rick Wilking)

Americans are on their way to breaking a new record — as well as bathroom scales, belts and waistbands around the country.

A new report just released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that the obesity epidemic in the United States is quickly worsening and shows little sign of coming to a stop. The CHC predicts that given the current pace of the country’s deteriorating collective health, 32 million more Americans will be considered obese by the year 2030.

The CDC currently reports that 35.7 percent of American adults are obese, with the statistic for adolescents and children being around proportional half at only 17 percent. In less than two decades, however, obese Americans are expected to make up around 42 percent of the US population.

According to the Institute of Medicine, reversing the trend will be a task not easy to accomplish either.

"People have heard the advice to eat less and move more for years, and during that time a large number of Americans have become obese," IOM committee member Shiriki Kumanyika of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine tells Reuters. "That advice will never be out of date. But when you see the increase in obesity you ask, what changed? And the answer is, the environment. The average person cannot maintain a healthy weight in this obesity-promoting environment."

In a 478-page report of their own released this week, the IOM says that tackling the obesity epidemic will require more than just making Americans eat better. Farm policies, zoning laws and even a soda tax are mentioned in their investigation as possible routes to avoid widespread weight gain. The institute also offers up a handful of specifics that should be considered to avoid accelerating the trend, including adopting at least 60 minutes of physical education and activity in US schools each day and creating industry-wide guidelines to establish how companies can market foods and drinks to children.

"Individuals and groups can't solve this complex problem alone, and that's why we recommend changes that can work together at the societal level and reinforce one another's impact to speed our progress," Dan Glickman, former secretary of the US Department of Agriculture, adds in the report.

The CDC also insists that acting on the youth of today to install healthier habits is critical if the country wants to defeat the trend. "We know that about 50 percent of severe obesity in adults is consequence of obesity in childhood,” Dr. William Dietz of the CDC's division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity tells ABC News.

The CDC adds in their report that, by 2030, the expect the number of Americans severely obese — those overweight by more than 100 pounds—will make up 11 percent of the population; today the statistic is only 6 percent.