There was good news and bad news on Tuesday, about a study on obesity rates in the U.S.
The good news is for men, the bad news is for women.
As CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez explained the rate of obesity in men has leveled off, but there remains a very high percentage of overweight men.
Unfortunately, obesity rates for women have continued to go up.
Obesity is a significant health risk that can lead to heart disease, orthopedic problems, and stroke. Many people have difficulty keeping weight off, and just as much trouble losing it.
“How the heck do you gain 7, 8-lbs in four days? That doesn’t seem possible,” one woman said.
“My weight is not coming off like I want it to, and I think that’s why I’m a little bit down and out,” another added.
Those frustrations are reflected in a large national survey in JAMA, Journal of the American Medical Association.
There is a significant difference between obesity rates for men and women.
“The prevalence of obesity among men was about 35 percent, and among women was about 40 percent and the prevalence of extreme obesity was 5.5 percent in men and almost 10 percent in women,” Dr. Cynthia L. Ogden, National Center for Health Statistics said.
Even more disturbing is that obesity rates are actually getting worse for women.
“We saw that there had been no change in men in either obesity or extreme obesity, but there had been an increase in women in both obesity and extreme obesity,” Dr. Ogden said.
Obesity expert Dr. Louis Aronne said women may be genetically programmed for weight gain.
“It’s easier for women to gain weight. If we look at why that is, it appears women can gain weight more easily because it’s good for them to have more fat for child bearing purposes,” Dr. Aronne said.
In a double whammy, it’s actually harder for women to lose the extra weight.
“Fat inside the abdomen which is where men primarily have it, is readily accessible to the liver which metabolizes it,” Dr. Arrone said, “That makes it easier for men to lose weight, where as women have fat underneath the skin which is more difficult for their bodies to access.”
Men also tend to have more muscle mass which means their metabolism is usually higher than women.
It’s not all good news for men, that abdominal fat that men have more of actually poses a greater health risk because it leads to diabetes and inflammation, and can lead to cancers of the colon, esophagus, and pancreas.