3/4 of Americans projected as overweight or obese by 2020

New statistics project an increase of overweight or obese Americans to 83 percent of men and 72 percent of women by 2020, according to a presentation this week at the annual scientific meeting of the American Heart Association.

The number of people who have diabetes or pre-diabetes by 2020 also will increase significantly, according to Mark Huffman, assistant professor of preventative medicine and cardiology at Northwestern University who presented his findings.

If current trends continue, the number of women living with diabetes will increase from 6.3 percent to 8.3 percent, and women who are pre-diabetic will increase from 37 percent to 44 percent.

In his research, Huffman analyzed current rates of smoking, lack of exercise, diet, weight, blood pressure and cholesterol. He then studied increases in weight, diabetes and pre-diabetes since 1988 and reached his 2020 projections.

Obesity is a major risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Obesity and overweight increase your body's blood sugar to stressful levels. Beta cells in your pancreas respond by producing increased amounts of insulin to regulate blood glucose. Eventually, overworked beta cells die and lose the ability to produce insulin, leading to type 2 diabetes.

Currently, 33.9 percent of adults in the United States are obese, and 34.4 are overweight, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Approximately 18.1 percent of children and adolescents aged 2 through 19 are obese.

An adult who has a BMI (body mass index) between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight, while an adult with 30 or higher BMI of 30 is obese.

While environment and genetics are a factor in weight gain, personal choices in eating and physical activity play a major role in obesity and overweight, according to the CDC.

In addition to obesity, other risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes include older age, family history of diabetes, history of gestational diabetes, impaired glucose metabolism, physical inactivity and race/ethnicity.

Source: NPR News report, Centers for Disease Control

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