More US adults overweight, but fewer trying to lose it, says study

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American adults continue to gain weight, but fewer are attempting to lose it, according to a new analysis of survey data.

A team of researchers led by Jian Zhang Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, pulled data from a broad and ongoing survey called the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), focusing in particular on the various responses to the survey question, "During the past 12 months, have you tried to lose weight?"

The researchers compiled responses from three different time periods, 1988-1994, 1999-2004, and 2009-2014.

They found two trends moving in opposite directions. Overweight and obese participants grew from 53 percent of respondents in the period 1988-1994 to 66 percent in 2009-2014. At the same time, the percentage of overweight and obese people trying to lose weight dropped from 56 percent in 1988-1994 to 49 percent in 2009-2014.

The team published their study Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The researchers said people's misperceptions about their own body weight may be stifling their motivation to lose pounds, or that doctors may not be discussing weight loss with their patients, according to a news release.

This is further evidence that obesity continues its stubborn rise in the United States, which is one of the most overweight countries in the world.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released two reports in 2016 suggesting the so-called obesity epidemic in the United States had hit a new high, and the World Health Organization also noted that global obesity rates have doubled since 1980. Worldwide, nearly 2 billion adults are obese.

A study published in The Lancet in March of 2016 found obese people in the world now outnumber the undernourished.