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Epidemic Obesity in the United States

Jeremiah Stamler, MD
Arch Intern Med. 1993;153(9):1040-1044. doi:10.1001/archinte.1993.00410090006001.
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SUSTAINED CALORIC imbalance with consequent overweight has become the behavioral norm for the American population. This phenomenon is documented in the data from the US National Health and Examination Survey of 1976 through 1980 (NHANES-II), displayed in the article by Denke et al in this issue of the Archives.1 Of the white men aged 20 to 74 years described there, an absolute majority had a body mass index (BMI) greater than 25.0 kg/m2, equivalent to more than 12% above desirable weight.2 ("Normal" BMI has been described as between 20.0 and 25.0 kg/m2).3 This pattern of overweight was the consistent NHANES-II finding for white men aged 35 to 44 years on up, and similar results were recorded for black men.4 While median BMI levels were slightly lower for younger white women, they exceeded 25.0 for those aged 55 to 74 years, and among black women,


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