Despite the fact that Americans spend over $60 billion per year trying to lose weight in the U.S., obesity in the United States has reached epidemic levels.
According to a late 2017 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 40 percent of American adults and nearly 20 percent of adolescents are obese — the highest rates in U.S. recorded history. And while the problem is everywhere, it is growing faster in some places than others. Rural areas tend to have both higher obesity rates and much greater rates of what medical researchers term “severe obesity,” which is a BMI of 40 or more.
“If you look at the trends in men, severe obesity more than tripled in rural areas,” senior CDC Researcher Cynthia Ogden told CBS News. “In women, severe obesity more than doubled.”
Severe obesity has also been on the rise over the last decade-and-a-half in urban areas. Urban men’s severe obesity rate has climbed from 2.4 percent to 4 percent since 2001-2004; severe obesity has expanded from 6 percent of urban females to 8 percent. In rural areas, the severe obesity rate among men was a little under 3 percent as of 15 years ago; today, it is a little over 10 percent. In women, a 6 percent rate has more than doubled to 14 percent.
“It’s difficult to be optimistic at this point,” Dr. Frank Hu, chair of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, told NBC. “The trend of obesity has been steadily increasing in both children and adults, despite many public health efforts to improve nutrition and physical activity.”
And while his pessimism on the topic sounds a bit defeatist, Dr. Hu makes a valid point: Despite many efforts at eradication, obesity is a very persistent problem.
About 45 million Americans go on a diet each year – usually in early January – and by early March, all but 30 percent have given up on the new diet and workout regimen they swore on New Year’s Eve that they were going to embrace.
Even among those who do successfully stick with their diet and reduce their weight by 10 percent or more usually don’t keep the weight off. About 80 percent of dieters will regain all the weight they lost, and in some cases will even put on new weight.
Standing against that lasting sense of pessimism, however, is the fact that Americans continue to invest time and treasure in at least trying to get into shape, despite an admittedly dismal success rate so far.
And working to capture a piece of that $60 billion market – and hopefully help to boost its success rate to somewhere north of 20 percent – is Noom.