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The Disease No One is Safe From

By Whitney Greer 

The good news? Americans are exercising more. The bad news.  The obesity epidemic is still growing.

A nine-year study of data from the University of Washington suggests that physical activity alone is not enough to combat the problem of excessive weight gain.

“While physical activity has improved noticeably in most counties, obesity has also continued to rise in nearly all counties,” said lead researcher Laura Dwyer-Lindgren, from the university’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

The obesity problem is directly related to how much Americans eat, said senior author Ali Mokdad, a professor of global health at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

“Americans are not doing enough to control what they eat,” he said.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of U.S. adults are obese, and obesity contributes to serious chronic illnesses, high medical costs and premature death.

“We have to face the reality that obesity is affecting our health,” Mokdad said. “We need to take care of ourselves by watching what we eat and how much we exercise.”

From 2001 to 2009, the percentage of adults meeting recommendations for physical activity — 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week — increased in most counties in the United States, the researchers report July 10 in Population Health Metrics.

But the percentage of adults considered obese also increased significantly. “In some counties, this increase was greater than 15 percentage points,” Dwyer-Lindgren said.

There was very little correlation between change in obesity and change in physical activity, the researchers noted.

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