In the ten years to 2010, the severely obese (Americans who are 100lbs or more overweight) increased about 70%. A new study from RAND Corporation (via ScienceDaily) found that "the proportion of people at the high end of the weight scale continues to increase faster than any other group of obese people, despite increased public attention on the risks of obesity."
Up from 3.9% to 6.6% (or more than 15 million people) of our population is now morbidly obese. The prevalence of severe obesity was about 50 percent higher among women than among men, and about twice as high among blacks when compared to Hispanics or whites. Increases in obesity were also fastest in the younger cohorts - under 40.
"The proportion of people at the high end of the weight scale continues to increase faster than any other group of obese people, despite increased public attention on the risks of obesity," said Roland Sturm, lead author of the report and a senior economist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. "But for the first time in the past 20 years there is evidence the trend is slowing."
The study suggests that clinically severe obesity, instead of being a rare pathological condition among genetically vulnerable individuals, is an integral part of the population's weight distribution. As the whole population becomes heavier, the extreme category -- the severely obese -- increases the fastest.
To be classified as severely obese, a person must have a body mass index (a ratio of weight to height) of 40 or higher -- roughly 100 pounds or more overweight for an average adult man. The typical severely obese man weighs 300 pounds at a height of 5 feet 10 inches tall, while the typical severely obese woman weighs 250 pounds at a height of 5 feet 4 inches.
People with a BMI of 25 to 29 are considered overweight, while a BMI of 30 or more classifies a person as being obese. For a 5-foot-10 inch male, a BMI of 30 translates into being 35 pounds too heavy.
Or, for those confused:
On the bright side, as we noted here, the faster we get fatter, the sooner we die, and the lower the deficit (via entitlements) will be. Perhaps the way out of this fiscal mess is indeed to eat ourselves to an early death? Maybe all those looking to regulate what we eat and drink may actually be doing our economy more harm than good in the long-run.