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The 1990s: A Bad Decade for America's Waistline

NEW YORK, Oct 04 (Reuters Health) —  Everyone knows Americans are getting larger and larger, but a new report shows that in the 1990s alone, the prevalence of obesity jumped nearly 60%.

Overall, 12% of people were obese in 1991 compared with 19% in 1998, according to a report in the October 4th issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association. The average US man now weighs 85 kilograms (187 pounds) and the average US woman weighs 68.7 kilograms (151 pounds), according to the 1999 data.

In the early 1990s, only 4 of 45 states participating in a survey reported that 15% of people in their state were obese. By the end of the decade, 39 of the 45 states reached that level.

"This continuing trend in obesity is a critical public health threat in the United States," warn Dr. Ali H. Mokdad and colleagues from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia. "The time has come to develop a national, comprehensive plan to prevent and treat the obesity epidemic."

Without a national plan to address the burgeoning rate of obesity in America, more and more adults can be expected to be diagnosed with chronic disease and die an early death, according to the researchers.

The obesity boom of the 1990s appeared to help fuel a 33% increase in the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.