Obesity appears to be a bigger problem than ever.
Early statistics for 2013 show an uptick in obesity rates in the United States, indicating that this year may see the highest rate in history.
According to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, the adult obesity rate in the U.S. is currently at 27.1 percent, and is on pace to surpass rates in prior years. It’s up from 26.2 percent in 2012 and much higher than the 25.5 percent found in 2008.
The uptick in obesity is accompanied by slight declines in the percentage of Americans who are classified as overweight and normal weight. The percentage who are overweight fell to 35.6 percent so far this year, from 36.1 percent in 2012, while the percentage who are a normal weight slipped to 35.4 percent from 35.9 percent in 2012.
Also read: 10 fattest states in America (2012)
Data is based on more than 84,000 interviews conducted from Jan. 1 through June 20 as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.
Someone with a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered normal weight, while someone with a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight. A person with a BMI of 30 or above is considered obese.
One contributor to the increasing obesity rate is that fewer Americans are exercising frequently, researchers said. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that only 20 percent of U.S. adults are meeting both the aerobic and muscle strengthening components of the federal government’s physical activity recommendations.
The new results on obesity numbers comes just after the American Medical Association last week officially recognized obesity as a disease, which could have implications for the way physicians, insurance companies and the general public perceive and treat it.
A handful of physician and obesity groups called the diagnosis a “watershed” moment that will help improve the lives of those affected by obesity across the country.