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Weight Loss and Obesity Statistics in the US, United Kingdom, and Australia
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Weight Loss and Obesity Statistics in the US, United Kingdom, and Australia

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Written by Rosmy Barrios, MD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Edibel Quintero, RD check
Published on 2022 September 19
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5 min
Weight Loss and Obesity Statistics
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While many of us still consider obesity a cosmetic problem, doctors are calling it a modern-day plague. And not without reason, since there are multiple health hazards at even the lowest levels of excess fat, ranging from simple joint issues to severe heart diseases. This problem is especially prevalent in countries where economic progress has reached its peak, most jobs become sedentary and dietary patterns have moved closer to fast-food consumption.

Obesity and Weight Loss in the US

One of these countries, of course, is the US, where obesity has become a true epidemic. According to National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), 70% of Americans are overweight or obese.

1 out of every 3 American adults suffer from obesity

Talking strictly about obesity, 1 out of every 3 American adults suffer from this condition.

At a population level, a high BMI is associated with an increased risk of disease and even early death. 

Health Reporter reminds that, according to WHO, a “normal” BMI sits between 18.5 and 24.9. 25.0 to 29.9 is considered overweight or pre-obesity. And people with a BMI over 30 are obese.

However, BMI is not always very accurate since it doesn’t take muscle mass, bone density, etc., into account.

That said, obesity is a very prevalent problem in the US. And it’s not only adults who suffer from it. The proportion of obesity among kids increased from 18% in 2011 to 22% in 2020. It means that more than 1 in 5 American kids are currently obese.

And these statistics could have potentially increased even further during the COVID-19 pandemic and mandatory quarantine.

To deal with weight issues, Americans seek help from fitness trainers, nutritionists, and healthcare specialists and try all kinds of diets.

80% of people who successfully lost at least 10% of their body weight gradually regained it

However, some estimates show that 80% of people who successfully lost at least 10% of their body weight gradually regained it and ended up as large or even larger before they went on a diet.

The emergence of digital tools seemed to provide some support in this fight against the obesity pandemic, but their popularity is plummeting fast. Mobile apps went from 63% for ages 18–34 in 2018 to 50% in 2020, while wearables use sunk from 43% to 26% during the same period of time.

Weight loss can be a tough journey; thus, people who decide on this mission would rather do it with someone else than on their own. Research shows that 3 in 5 people say they need more support to lose weight.

And the ones that do get that support usually show a far higher success rate of achieving long-term health benefits.

Besides changing the lifestyle, there are many other burdens that stop people from becoming healthier. For example, women with kids (30%) are more likely than women without kids (21%) to say other priorities are getting in the way of living a healthy lifestyle.

These factors play an important role in the soaring obesity rates.

Obesity and Weight Loss in the UK

In 1968, only one in 200 adults in America suffered from obesity. By 2004, this number jumped to 1 in 50. Currently, 1 in 3 people there is obese.

This rate has similarly increased in the United Kingdom. The 2008 Health Survey for England indicated that 1 in 4 adults was obese.

It is estimated that at current rates, 60% of males and 50% of females will be obese by 2050.

80% of obese 10–14-year-olds will become obese adults.

Just like in the US, obesity is becoming a vast problem among United Kingdom’s kids as well. Data says that 80% of obese 10–14-year-olds will become obese adults.

As mentioned, obesity leads to a series of severe health issues, including diabetes, coronary heart disease (CHD), osteoarthritis, etc. 

It is estimated that more than 9,000 premature deaths happen in the UK due to obesity every year, accounting for 8.7% of all deaths.

The causes of obesity in the United Kingdom are the same as elsewhere – lack of physical activity, sedentary jobs, poor diet, etc. But everything goes down to an old truth – people get obese by eating too much and moving too little.

But that’s where the problem lies. According to 2016 research by Mintel, well over one-third (37%) of Brits don’t know how many calories they consume on a typical day.

And although the Brits don’t necessarily know how many calories they consume on a daily basis, 48% of them admitted to trying to lose weight in 2015.

According to the 2017 data, the UK (26%) ranked #10 in the list of OECD countries with the biggest obesity rates. Australia ranks even higher.

Obesity in Australia

In 2017, Australia (28%) led the UK in obesity rates by 2%. And although these numbers could have changed in the last couple of years, the problem remains – Australia, too, suffers from huge obesity rates.

Among men, obesity rates are around 31–33%, while women have this condition a bit more rarely – 28–30%.

In 2018, 8.4% of the total burden of disease in Australia was due to overweight and obesity.

Overall, the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ National Health Survey revealed that 67% of Australian adults were overweight or obese. Compared to the 2014–2015 survey, it’s an increase of 3.6%.

Severe obesity has risen from 4.9% to 9.4% among Australian adults over the past 20 years.

What’s even more concerning is that severe obesity (BMI over 40) has risen from 4.9% to 9.4% among Australian adults over the past 20 years.

The biggest obesity problem appears to burden people in regional Australia

The biggest obesity problem appears to burden people in regional Australia, where gyms and health centers are less accessible. Therefore the obesity rate in major Australian cities in 2018 was 65%, in Inner Regional Australia – 72.4%, and in Outer Regional and Remote Australia – 72.2%.

Just like in the US and UK, this trend of increasing obesity rates is observed among children, too. In 2017–18, 1 in 4 (25%) children and adolescents aged 2–17 were overweight or obese.

Findings

Since 1980, the prevalence of obesity in the US, UK, and Australia has trebled. Ant not only among adults but also among children as well.

Obesity, or a “Modern Day Plague,” as healthcare specialists say, has reached a true pandemic status, with the mentioned three countries becoming the center of it.

About 8% of premature deaths can be accredited to obesity which also can become the main reason for developing type 2 diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, etc.

So although people tend to consider it a cosmetic problem, the health issues that lay beyond it prove otherwise. Luckily, they can be avoided by changing our lifestyles, considering healthier diets, and becoming more physically active.

And, of course, it is very important to support the people that are dealing with this condition.

HR_author_photo_Rosmy
Written by
Dr. Rosmy Barrios, MD, is a medical advisor for the Health Reporter, the head of the anti-aging department, and a regenerative medicine specialist in several medical institutions with years of experience in aesthetic medicine and cosmetology.
Medically reviewed byEdibel Quintero, RD
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