January 16, 2019 by Laura Pincus and Patty Shillington
Roundup: Average Weight of U.S. Adults Increasing; Respiratory Virus Alert; and Flu Activity Update
Average Weight for U.S. Adults Increases, BMIs Near ‘Obesity’ Level, CDC Reports.
On average, U.S. adults are getting heavier as the obesity epidemic forges on, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
An analysis of data on more than 47,000 Americans, ages 20 and older, found that the average waist circumference jumped more than 1 inch for men and 2 inches for women over a 16-year period. But the increases were more striking in terms of weight. The average weight for U.S. males was 197.9 pounds in 2015-2016 (up from 189.4 pounds in 1999-2000), according to the latest report from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. The average U.S. woman registered 170.6 pounds, up from 163.8.
In comparison, the average man weighed 166 pounds and the average woman 140 pounds in the 1960s.
A healthy body mass index, or BMI, usually falls between 18.5 and 24.9. A 30 BMI qualifies as “obese.” The new data puts U.S. adults very close to the obesity level. The average BMI was 29.1 for men in 2015-16 and 29.6 for women. Sixteen years earlier, those stats were 27.8 and 28.2, respectively.
Meanwhile, the average height of Americans is heading downward. The new report says the overall average height for women decreased slightly from 162.1 centimeters (5 feet, 3.8 inches) in 1999-2000 to 161.7 centimeters (5 feet, 3.7 inches) in 2015-16.
For men, the average height in 1999-2000 was 175.6 centimeters (5 feet, 9.2 inches). It had increased until 2003-04, when the average height was 176.4 centimeters (5 feet, 9.4 inches). But by 2015-16, men’s average height decreased to 175.4 centimeters (5 feet, 9.1 inches).
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CDC: Respiratory Virus, RSV, Can Be Serious for Children, Older Adults
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that a respiratory infection, known as RSV, can seriously affect young children and older adults. RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) can start out with symptoms similar to the common cold and most people recover in a week or so.
RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways in the lung) and pneumonia (infection of the lungs) in children younger than 1 year of age in the United States. It is also a significant cause of respiratory illness in older adults.
Some people are more likely to develop severe RSV infection and may need to be hospitalized, the CDC said. RSV can also make chronic health problems worse.
“For example, people with asthma may experience asthma attacks as a result of RSV infection, and people with congestive heart failure may experience more severe symptoms triggered by RSV,” states the CDC.
Infants, young children and older adults are more likely to get serious complications if they get sick with RSV, the CDC says.
Flu Cases Increasing Nationwide, But Just Two States Seeing Elevated Activity
The 2018-2019 flu season is in full swing with public health officials reporting that two states (Colorado and Georgia) are seeing high flu activity.
Additionally, nine states (Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, New Jersey, South Carolina, and Virginia) have experienced a “moderate” number of influenza cases, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The District of Columbia and 28 states, including Florida, have seen minimal influenza activity so far.
Getting your yearly vaccination is the best protection against influenza, physicians and health officials say. Individuals who are at high risk of flu-related complications include young children, pregnant women, people with certain chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease or lung disease, and people aged 65 years and older.
Flu season typically lasts about 16 weeks. So there is still time for a flu shot if you didn’t get one yet this year. The CDC estimates that more than 700,000 people were hospitalized with the flu during last flu season, 2017-2018, with influenza or pneumonia activity considered at “epidemic level” for 16 consecutive weeks.
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