Food & Beverage Perspectives
America’s Obesity Struggle Still Ballooning

Americas Obesity Struggle Still Ballooning

Obesity is one of the greatest health challenges facing the United States, and is a major factor affecting the food and beverage industry. Adult Americans who are obese now outnumber those who are considered overweight, according to a new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine that estimates that 67.6 million Americans over the age of 25 years are obese and an additional 65.2 million are overweight.

Obesity is one of the greatest health challenges facing the United States, and is a major factor affecting the food and beverage industry. Adult Americans who are obese now outnumber those who are considered overweight, according to a new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine that estimates that 67.6 million Americans over the age of 25 years are obese and an additional 65.2 million are overweight.

The study shows American’s waistlines are still ballooning out of control even though more emphasis has been put on consumer education by both health officials and the food and beverage industry. Researchers estimated the prevalence of obesity and those who are considered overweight, by gender, age, and race/ethnicity. The sample size included 15,208 men and women aged 25 and older—representative of more than 188 million people. Researchers found that African-Americans have the highest rates of obesity, with 39 percent of black men and 57 percent of black women considered obese. Researchers also found that 17 percent of black women are extremely obese, meaning their body mass index is over 40, as are 7 percent of black men. Among Mexican-Americans in the study, 38 percent of men and 43 percent of women are obese. For Caucasians, 35 percent of men and 34 percent of women are obese.

In February, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee submitted its recommendation that continued to call for Americans to reduce their intake of saturated fat and sodium, and to boost their consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts. The guidelines encourage Americans to focus on eating a healthful diet—one that focuses on foods and beverages that help achieve and maintain a healthy weight, promote health and prevent disease.

America’s obesity epidemic weighed heavily in the development of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The 2010 guidelines placed stronger emphasis on reducing calorie consumption, increasing physical activity and choosing healthy foods, including more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein sources, and fat-free and low-fat dairy items while limiting sodium, saturated and trans fats, added sugars and refined grains.

Once again, obesity was a main focus in the 2015 recommendations. According to the report, “the overall body of evidence examined by the 2015 DGAC identifies that a healthy dietary pattern is higher in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low- or non-fat dairy, seafood, legumes, and nuts; moderate in alcohol (among adults); lower in red and processed meat; and low in sugar-sweetened foods and drinks and refined grains."

On June 16, FDA announced it had finalized its determination that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the primary food manufacturing source of trans fats, are not “generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) for foods, giving food and beverages manufacturers three years to remove them entirely from food products. FDA is essentially banning trans fats in food products, and the “no trans fats" label on food products will become obsolete. Naturally occurring trans fats found in small amounts in some meat and dairy products are not additives and a special case, and they do not fall under the ban.

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