Overweight Adults Less Likely to Try to Lose Weight

More are overweight, obese than two decades ago, but fewer are trying to shed pounds
More are overweight, obese than two decades ago, but fewer are trying to shed pounds

HealthDay News — One in every three people in the United States is now obese, compared with one in five 20 years ago, but many have given up on trying to lose the excess weight, according to a research letter published in the March 7 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Jian Zhang, MD, Dr. PH, an associate professor of epidemiology with Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, and colleagues analyzed data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a federally funded ongoing survey that keeps track of Americans' health and diet habits.

The researchers found that participants surveyed between 2009 and 2014 were 17% less likely overall to say they'd tried to lose weight during the previous year than those surveyed between 1988 and 1994. All racial/ethnic groups across both genders reported decreased interest in weight loss, but women in particular were more likely to say they'd given up on it. By 2014, black women were 31% less likely to have tried to lose weight compared with two decades prior, and white women were 27% less likely to have made the attempt. 

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People who were overweight but not yet obese have experienced the greatest loss of interest in maintaining a healthy weight, Zhang told HealthDay. Zhang said that future efforts to improve public health should focus on lifestyle changes that promote healthy eating and exercise for everyone, rather than an emphasis on losing weight. "Motivation should come from family, friends, physicians, and the media in educating about the health risks of being overweight," he added.

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