Obesity is epidemic in the 18-25 age group, new study finds

Written by By Dr. Jennifer Delgado, CNN

It is now very clear: America’s obesity epidemic is far from over.

Nearly 57% of young people aged 18 to 25 in the United States are overweight or obese, according to the first ever obesity study for this age group.

According to the study, conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine and published in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics, African American adults were most likely to be obese and Mexican American adolescents had the largest disparity in obesity rates.

Researchers looked at the 2014-2016 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and analyzed health records for more than 31,000 participants aged 18 to 25.

The majority of obese respondents (47%) were overweight, while 36% were obese.

In comparison, 18% of survey respondents were considered to be underweight.

Black and Mexican American adolescents were twice as likely to be obese as their white peers, while adults were two to three times more likely to be obese if they were Mexican American.

“This is the first large-scale review to look at the nationally representative population of young adults in the US,” said lead author Mark Post, professor of epidemiology at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University.

Post added that US rates of obesity have been increasing over the last five decades.

“These findings were surprising to us,” Post said. “We found that 18 percent of young adults are obese, which is really an alarming statistic.”

Post explained that previous research focused on adolescents and adults but this was the first study that looked at the nation’s largest age group.

“These are young adults who are the main driver of a lot of chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer, so these are young adults who make up a really important patient group,” Post said.

Previous findings on child obesity rates suggest that more than 30 percent of 11 to 18-year-olds are now considered obese.

A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, published in the journal Lancet in September, analyzed a group of 5,069 adults and found that 49.7 percent of 15-year-olds had a body mass index (BMI) of at least 30, which is considered to be obese.

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