The adult study found the prevalence of overall obesity was 33.8 percent -- 32.2 percent in men and 35.5 percent in women. The rates of obesity for women remained relatively stable during the study period. In men, however, the rates went up during the first five years and then leveled off.
"The increases in the prevalence of obesity previously observed do not appear to be continuing at the same rate over the past 10 years, particularly for women and possibly for men," wrote the researchers.
The risk of being obese increased with age, according to the study. The biggest increases came after age 40. Blacks -- both male and female -- and female Mexican-Americans were significantly more likely to be obese than non-Hispanic whites.
For the study on children, the researchers sorted the data into three different cut-off points, according to Ogden -- a BMI over the 85th percentile for age and gender, over the 95th percentile or the 97th. In general, over the 85th percentile is considered overweight in children, while over the 95th percentile is considered obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Overall, 9.5 percent of children under 2 had a BMI over the 95th percentile, and 16.9 percent of children between 2 and 19 had a BMI above the 95th percentile, according to the study.
It appears that the rate of obesity leveled off in 1999 in children and has remained steady since, with one exception. The researchers found an increase in the number of white boys between 6 and 19 years old whose BMIs were over the 97th percentile.
The researchers don't know why the rates of obesity might be increasing in this one group, because t
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