Updated Reports from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a report that indicates the current prevalence and related statistics surrounding cardiovascular disease, metabolic disease and obesity in North America. A number of these statistics display the grim reality of how unhealthy the general population really is in 2010. It appears that no State met the Healthy People 2010 target of reducing obesity to 15%, although some areas of the country fared better than others. Dr. Thomas Frieden, the Director of the CDC states, “…obesity has increased faster than anyone could have imagined it would…more people (if the numbers continue to rise) will get sick and die from the complications of obesity, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer.” The report estimates the medical costs of obesity and related cardiovascular and metabolic diseases to be as high as $147 billion per year. The CDC report, primarily based on 2007-2008 data, outlined current statistics associated with hypertension, heart disease, cholesterol serum levels, diabetes, and obesity.
Over one third (34%) of the adult population 20 years of age and older were classified as obese. The same percentage (34%) of the same population (20 years of age or older) was classified as overweight (but not obese). This means that over two thirds (68%) of the population has an issue maintaining a healthy weight as dictated by the Body Mass Index (BMI) scale. Eighteen percent of adolescents between 12-19 years of age, 20% of children between 6-11 years of age, and 10% of children between 2-5 years of age were also classified as obese. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2007-2008 data presented by the CDC suggests an increase in obesity between the late 1980’s and today. The prevalence of obesity has more than doubled between the 1976-1980 and 2007-2008 survey periods, but the prevalence of individuals classified as overweight has remained stable suggesting overweight people are becoming obese and normal weight people replace those that were overweight.
Nearly a third (32%) of the adult population ages 20 and older were classified as hypertensive; without even examining currently institutionalized individuals. The number of ambulatory care visits (physician offices, hospital outpatient and emergency departments) with hypertension as the primary diagnosis totaled 40.5 million. Over half (53%) of the elderly under nursing home care presented with hypertension, which is expected as the majority of older adults in their 70’s and 80’s suffer from hypertension.
When examining data related to heart disease, 26.6 million adults, or 12% of the adult population, were diagnosed within the 2007-2008 period. Nearly half (43%) of the elderly adult population under nursing home care demonstrated some form of heart disease. There were 16 million ambulatory visits and 616,097 deaths as a result of diagnosed heart disease, making it the #1 cause of death in North America for the given period. Statistics related to cholesterol, one of the primary potential risk factors for heart disease, revealed that 16% of adults ages 20 and older presented with high serum cholesterol; with the mean cholesterol in this age group at 200 mg/dL. It is important to note that the mean cholesterol level for adults is at the risk level and approaching the blood lipid content that currently necessitates a medical referral (>240 mg/dL) prior to participation in an exercise program.
Diabetes, the 7th most common cause of death in North America, was the primary diagnosis of 28.6 million ambulatory care visits according to the current report by the CDC. Approximately 10% of non-institutionalized adults 20 years of age or older (diagnosed or undiagnosed, 7.7% and 2.5% respectively), and 24% of the elderly under nursing home care presented with metabolic disease. The total number of resultant deaths totaled 71,382 individuals.
The previous data indicates that past efforts to thwart the increasing prevalence and negative social/economic implications correlated to obesity and interrelated diseases have been short of adequate. CDC researchers claim the increase in obesity is due to the classic suspects: low physical activity or exercise and excessive intake of high-calorie foods that contain unhealthy amounts of simple sugars and fat. Dr. Frieden suggests several fundamental steps for reducing or preventing obesity including: increasing total physical activity, increasing intake of fruits and vegetables, reducing total time watching TV or using a computer (non-work related), reducing high calorie food intake, reducing intake of beverages with significant simple sugar density, and increasing breastfeeding rates.