The Takeaway: Good and Bad In New U.S. Obesity Data; Adults Want To Be Like Betty

Different Perspectives on U.S. Obesity Rate: There are two ways you can look at the CDC’s most recent report on American obesity rates: ‘Obesity rates appear to be finally leveling off!’ or ‘Obesity rates remain stubbornly unchanged!‘ Both would be, technically, correct-I guess it depends on whether you’re a glass-half-full or empty kind of person (or which headline you think will garner the most attention). But it sure makes for a mighty confusing glance at today’s obesity report coverage.

So what did the data say? Well, overall, obesity rates have risen over the past decade, from 30.5% of adults in 2000 to 35.7% in 2010-though the rate of increase slowed toward the latter half of the decade. Public health officials seem to agree that the obesity rate is ‘leveling off’ or ‘plateauing,’ and maybe recent health and fitness pushes have had some effect.

I believe we’re not yet at the place with obesity where tobacco was when cigarette use started to drop,” the CDC’s Dr. William Dietz said. “Nutrition programs and physical activity efforts have only just begun to kick in, and haven’t had much time to operate. It takes time before the effects of policy change begin to show benefit in terms of behavior changes.”

While obesity in women has remained relatively constant (35.7% were obese in 2010, about the same as in 2000), obesity in men has increased. The rate is now almost identical between the sexes, with obese men increasing to 35.5% in 2010 from 27.5% in 2000. Among all sexes and age groups, women 60 and older remain the most likely to be obese, with a rate of 42.3%. 

Adults Want To Be Like Betty: A new poll conducted by MIT’s AgeLab and Hartford Financial Services Group found Betty White-who turned 90 yesterday-is the celebrity middle-aged and older adults most want to be like when they retire (or, if they’re already retired, consider a kindred spirit). Kind of funny, since White shows no indication of actually, you know, retiring (hey, we’ve got no complaints about that). White beat out such notable company as Jimmy Carter, Martha Stewart, Helen Mirren (who beat out Elle MacPherson, Jennifer Lopez and Kate Winslet in a best body contest earlier this year), Steven Tyler, Jack Welch and George Foreman.

Do you agree with those polled? What celebrity do you consider an awesome retirement role model?

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Photo: Reuters