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Study: U.S. Obesity Epidemic Shows No Sign of Losing Steam

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CHICAGO, June 15 (AFP) - The latest snapshot of US obesity rates shows no let-up in the epidemic that has gripped the nation over the past two decades and panicked public health authorities, a study released Tuesday said.

The percentage of obese Americans as a proportion of the population is holding steady at about 30.6 percent of the adult population, and 16.5 percent of the six to 19-year-old age group, according to the latest government statistics.

The figures, which are culled from the national benchmark study on obesity, suggest that the US government is losing its battle to reduce the number of seriously overweight Americans, the authors of the study said.

The US Department of Health and Human Services had hoped to slash the percentages of seriously overweight adults and children/adolescents to 15 and five percent of the population respectively by 2010, as part of a broader disease-prevention program.

But those targets, set out in a government plan called "Healthy People 2010, " look unrealistic now, said Allison Hedley, an epidemiologist with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia.

"It would be very difficult to hit those targets," she said. "We haven't even seen the figures stabilise yet, never mind decline."

Hedley's study, published in Wednesday's edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association, is based on just two years of data from the long-running National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

Her analysis considered data from a population sample of more than 8,500 US adults and chidren from the years 2001 and 2002.



COPYRIGHT 2004 Agence France-Presse. All rights reserved.


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