US researchers say that the country's obesity problem may be more serious than previously believed and that a vast majority of adults in the United States are at risk of becoming overweight or obese.
In a government study that followed 4,000 participants over a 30-year period, researchers found that ninety percent of men and seventy percent of women were overweight or later became overweight.
"National surveys and other studies have told us that the United States has a major weight problem, but this study suggests that we could have an even more serious degree of overweight and obesity (cases) over the next few decades," said Elizabeth Nabel, director of the US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
Excess weight and obesity increase the risk of poor health and can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, breathing problems and some cancers, Nabel said.
"We hope these results will serve as a wake-up call to Americans of all ages."
The study's results, which were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, were based on assessments of body mass index, a standard measure of weight relative to height.
The volunteers for the study were white, from the town of Framingham in the northeastern state of Massachusetts. Researchers said their study might underestimate the problem among Hispanic and African-American communities, which tend to have higher rates of excess weight.
According to the government's National Center for Health Statistics, an estimated 65 percent of US adults over the age of 20 are either overweight or obese, with 30 percent of adults considered obese.
The study found that making it to middle age at a healthy weight was no guarantee for staying at that weight. About one in five women and one in four men in the study deteriorated during a four year period, gaining excess weight or becoming obese.
"Taking simple steps to make sure that the overall number of calories you consume do not exceed the amount you burn can play a major role in lowering your risk for many chronic conditions," Nabel said.
source: worldhealth.net and AFP