obesity physical therapy

Fitness Matters: Nearly 40 Percent of U.S. Adults are Obese (CDC)

An important new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlines a key health and fitness concern: Nearly 40 percent of U.S. adults are obese.

The document is titled Prevalence of Obesity Among Adults and Youth: United States, 2015–2016. As the report notes: “Obesity is associated with serious health risks (1). Monitoring obesity prevalence is relevant for public health programs that focus on reducing or preventing obesity.”

Among the key findings includes information about adults and children, as well as selected groups by race:

  • In 2015–2016, the prevalence of obesity was 39.8% in adults and 18.5% in youth.
  • The prevalence of obesity was higher among middle-aged adults (42.8%) than among younger adults (35.7%).
  • The prevalence of obesity was higher among youth aged 6–11 years (18.4%) and adolescents aged 12–19 years (20.6%) compared with children aged 2–5 years (13.9%).
  • The overall prevalence of obesity was higher among non-Hispanic black and Hispanic adults than among non-Hispanic white and non-Hispanic Asian adults. The same pattern was seen among youth.
  • The observed change in prevalence between 2013–2014 and 2015–2016 was not significant among both adults and youth.

The report is especially important for physical therapists, can help patients manage obesity. The American Physical Therapy Association reports: “Physical therapists can help people who are obese to be more physically active and fit by teaching them to exercise in pain free and fun ways. The right exercise is very important because it helps burn calories, get rid of fat, preserve muscle tissue, and protect your joints. When you start a fun exercise routine, it also helps you make better choices about your diet.”

The APTA continues: “Physical therapists can also help individuals address any underlying reasons for their unhealthy behaviors; they are trained to identify any barriers to developing healthy habits, setting individual goals, and sticking to the program. Physical therapists can help:”

  • Reduce pain.
  • Improve cardiovascular fitness.
  • Improve strength.
  • Improve movement.
  • Improve flexibility and posture.
  • Increase activity levels.

According to the Los Angeles Times: “Patrick T. Bradshaw, who studies population health at UC Berkeley, says the new statistics underscore that turning the tide on obesity will require more aggressive and targeted efforts.”

“The rising obesity levels ‘suggest that we haven’t been successful in efforts to reduce or prevent obesity in the population,’ Bradshaw said. He echoed a growing consensus among public health experts that if progress is to be made in driving down obesity rates in the population at large, campaigns may need to focus on the specific challenges faced by Latinos and African Americans — especially women — in weight management.”