LOS ANGELES (CNS) – The proportion of Americans who are severely obese — 100 pounds or more overweight — continues to increase rapidly and much faster than those with moderate obesity, but the rate of growth has slowed, according to a study released today by Santa Monica-based RAND Corp.
The study found that from 2000 to 2010, the proportion of Americans who were severely obese rose from 3.9 percent of the population to 6.6 percent — an increase of about 70 percent.
The findings, published online by the International Journal of Obesity, mean that more than 15 million adult Americans are morbidly obese with a body mass index of 40 or more.
The good news is that beginning in 2005, the near-exponential growth of the severely obese group began to flatten out, according to RAND.
“The proportion of people at the high end of the weight scale continues to increase faster than any other group of obese people, despite increased public attention on the risks of obesity,” said Roland Sturm, lead author of the report and a senior economist at the nonprofit think tank. “But for the first time in the past 20 years, there is evidence the trend is slowing.”
The study suggests that clinically severe obesity, instead of being a rare pathological condition among genetically vulnerable individuals, is an integral part of the population’s weight distribution. As the whole population becomes heavier, the extreme category — the severely obese — increases the fastest.