Men's and boys' obesity rates are catching up with that of women, a national health snapshot released Tuesday says.
In the past decade, the prevalence of obese men in the United States increased 8 percent, and the number of obese boys jumped almost 5 percent, according to the National Health and Examination Survey. Female obesity rates increased less than 2 percent during that time.
More than 78 million adults, and about 12.5 million children and adolescents are obese, the latest numbers from 2009-2010 show. For adults, that's 35 percent of the population, and includes about 41 million women and more than 37 million men ages 20 and older.
"It is discouraging," said Denise Edwards, an assistant professor of internal medicine and pediatrics at the University of South Florida and director of the USF Healthy Weight Clinic.
"I felt there had been a lot more attention paid to obesity. But there really aren't enough things in place to really make a difference."
For years, experts attributed a lack of physical activity and a thirst for quick, convenient processed meals as key to the nation's growing waistline. As a result, adult obesity rates overall have hovered near 35 percent for more than a decade.
Men's food choices, portion sizes and a propensity to enjoy a few more calorie-laden beers than women also could be responsible for the gender's spike in weight, said Lisa Saff Koche, director of Spectra Wellness Solutions in Tampa.