The Latest Data
The government and public health agencies work in conjunction with one another to collect and quantify data from all over the country in countless areas. This is what allows us to see trends over the long term in everything from bicycle and motor vehicle safety to drinking behaviors to nutrition and growth. The subset of this effort for the nutrition and public health policy world is called the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).
The most recent NHANES data is telling us that the rates of obesity in US adults may be stabilizing. That may be a slight overstatement as the rates are increasing at a slower rate, but I hope that with public health concerns rising and public awareness of the health consequences of overweight/obesity seeping in we can in fact see this giant ship turn around. It's fascinating to think that the multi-pronged efforts that are going on may be helping to change the social and physical environments and that those changes are driving changes at an individual level.
Rising Health Care Costs
This comes at a particularly important time as the health care debate continues in the beltway. The Congressional Budget Office released a report just this week regarding how the weight of Americans has affected health care costs in the US. From 1987-2007, per capita spending has grown by 65% and 61% for normal weight range and overweight adults, respectively. In the same time period, per capita health care spending has grown by 111% for obese adults. These statistics were calculated using the body mass index categories.