— -- With larger portion sizes and many foods higher in fat, it’s not a surprise to find that the average weight of American men has increased by about 15 pounds over the last two decades, according to a new study published today by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“[This rate] is always a cause for alarm,” Dr. Goutham Rao, Chairman of the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at Case Western Medical Center told ABC News.
He said rising obesity rates continue to be a major source of health problems for many Americans. “The prevalence of obesity in adults has increased since 2006, and this is true for kids as well. We are even seeing more children with adult problems, like high blood pressure.”
Rao said he sees more patients every day with obesity-related illnesses.
“Obesity is not just related to diabetes and heart disease,” he said. Patients “are having problems with their mobility, arthritis, and there is a psychological component as well.”
Researchers from the CDC found that the average weight of U.S. men over the age of 20 has increased to 195.7 pounds, according to data from 2011 to 2014. The former average, 180.7 pounds, was based on data from 1988-1994. The heights of both men and women remained about the same.
Women and children are not immune to the slow weight gain of recent decades, either. The average woman in 1960 weighed 140.2 pounds. Today, the average weight for a woman is 168.5 pounds. Adolescent boys and girls seem to be the most at risk, with a 12 pound average weight gain -- proportionately more based on height -- compared to 20 years ago.
Rao said the increase in weight gain over the past 50 years is due to many factors, since body weight is determined by genetics as well as environment.
But the news isn’t all bad. According to CDC data, the rate at which American men are gaining weight is slowing down. Since 2002, men in the U.S. increased their average weight by just 5 pounds.
Researchers in the study used data on weight, height, circumference and other body measurements from 19,151 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, between 2011-2014.
While the rate of weight gain has decreased, experts say the overall increase in weight is still worrying.
Rao said there are basic steps people can take to begin losing weight. Choosing to drink water instead of beverages that contain calories and taking a walk around the neighborhood are some small changes in daily routine that can have a big impact on health.
He also said that people who are trying to lose weight should not focus on the number of pounds lost or a certain deadline for the weight loss. “Think about adopting healthy behaviors that can last a lifetime,” Rao said.