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Obesity rate reaches new high

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The obesity rate among U.S. adults is the highest ever — now sitting at 27.7 percent, according to new Gallup numbers.

That’s up from the 27.1 percent average in 2013, which was, at the time, the highest annual rate measured by the polling.

According to Gallup, black adults still have the highest obesity rate of any group (35.5 percent), while young adults between ages 18 and 29 have the lowest (17 percent).

See also: Americans getting fatter, falling behind in life expectancy

High-income Americans, those who earn $90,000 or more annually, also are among the least likely to be obese (23.1 percent).

Gallup data also found that the obesity rate among older Americans aged 65 and older ticked up 1.6 points so far in 2014 to 27.9 percent, the largest increase among subgroups.

Obesity rates are highest in the Midwest (29.6 percent) and the South (28.7), while 26.8 percent of the folks living on the East coast are obese and 25.1 percent are obese in the West, Gallup found.

Overall, the data signals obesity as a continuing epidemic — one that takes a heavy toll on society’s collective health and wallets.

“While it is difficult to identify long-term trends from short-term data, these data suggest, at best, no retreat in the obesity epidemic and, at worst, a deterioration,” said Janna Lacatell, Healthways lifestyle solutions director.

“Given that obesity leads to higher rates of serious health conditions like diabetes and hypertension, and has been shown to cause disease onset at younger ages, this is a significant public health concern. Further, populations that have a disproportionately high obesity rate, such as African Americans and southerners, also have disproportionately higher diabetes rates,” Lacatell said.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index uses respondents’ self-reports of their height and weight to calculate body mass index scores, so it differs slightly from government reports of obesity, which are based on actual heights and weights found in clinical measurements. Individual BMI values of 30 or above are classified as obese, 25 to 29.9 are overweight, 18.5 to 24.9 are normal weight, and 18.4 or less are underweight.

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