The new data could still underestimate the true level of obesity in the country, the researchers said. That's because many men and women often say they are taller than they are or say they weigh less than they do, especially in self-reporting surveys, the team said.
As a result, the estimate of 26.7 percent of adults being obese is lower than the national 2007-2008 estimate pegged at 33.9 percent, or almost 73 million people. According to Dr. William Dietz, director of CDC's Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity, the latter (higher) estimate came from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, in which participants' height and weight were actually measured by researchers.
According to this new report, obesity is hitting some segments of the population harder than others. Blacks have the highest rate of adult obesity at 36.8 percent overall, and 41.9 percent of black women are now obese, the survey found.
Among Hispanics, the obesity rate is 30.7 percent, and among whites 25.2 percent, according to the report.
Education may also play a role: Almost a third (32.9 percent) of people without a high school diploma are now obese, the report found.
And location seems to be a factor, too. In the South, 28.4 percent of adults are obese, while in the Midwest the rate is 28.2 percent. In the Northeast the rate is 24.3 percent, and for the West it's 24.4 percent.
Some states seem to be faring worse than others. While just under 19 percent of adults in Colorado are obese, that number jumps to 34.4 percent for adults from Mississippi. Only Colorado and the District of Columbia had obesity rates of less than 20 percent.
Initiatives needed to fight the obesity epidemic, according to Frieden, include:
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