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The grossly obese are tipping the scales in America

By April MacIntyre Jan 10, 2009, 19:35 GMT

The grossly obese are tipping the scales in America

This is a 16 year-old boy being tested - Obesity is a worldwide issue, but especially in the United States where figures continue to climb...EPA/DIEGO AZUBEL

If you observe top rated reality shows on television, like "The Biggest Loser" on NBC or Style network's highest-rated series "Ruby," which is a video journal of the weight loss struggle of a 500-pound Savannah, Georgia woman, the obesity epidemic in the United States is no surprise to you.

Style reality star Ruby Gettinger actually told producers: "When I hit 700 pounds, I knew I had to do something."

700 pounds.

Ruby Gettinger and her extreme plight is more common in America than ever, shockingly.

To accommodate these enormous bodies, a whole industry of larger toilets, caskets, furniture lines and even reinforced beds are now being sold.

The number of obese American adults outweighs the number of those who are merely overweight, now the federal government claims.

Ruby Gettinger from Style

Ruby Gettinger from Style

The National Center for Health Statistics claim 34 percent of Americans are obese, compared to 32.7 percent who are overweight. It said just under 6 percent are "extremely" obese.

"More than one-third of adults, or over 72 million people, were obese in 2005-2006, the NCHS said in its report.

The figures come from the 2005-2006 survey and are the most current available.

"During the physical examination, conducted in mobile examination centers, height and weight were measured as part of a more comprehensive set of body measurements," the NCHS report said.

"Although the prevalence of obesity has more than doubled since 1980, the prevalence of overweight has remained stable over the same time period," it said.

Obesity and overweight are calculated using a formula called body mass index. BMI is equal to weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared. Someone with a BMI of 25 to 29 is classified as overweight, 30 to 40 counts as obese and people with BMIs of 40 or more are morbidly obese.

A person 5 feet 5 inches tall becomes overweight at 150 pounds (68 kg) and obese at 180 pounds (82 kg). The U.S. National Institutes of Health has an online BMI calculator here/.

Since 1988 up until the 1994 surveys, 33 percent of Americans were overweight, 22.9 percent were obese and 2.9 percent were morbidly obese.

The numbers have gone up steadily since.

Childhood obesity is especially alarming to doctors who concede the battle to get fit and stay within normal weight parameters is severely hindered when one is obese from early on in life.


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