The data, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) last week, analyzed trends in obesity among US youth and adults in 2007-2008 as well as in 2015-2016. The results revealed that obesity prevalence among adults increased, from 33.7 percent in 2007-2008 to 39.6 percent in 2015-2016. Obesity prevalence was 16.8 percent among youth in 2007-2008 and jumped to 18.6 percent in 2015-2016.
"Most people know that being overweight or obese is unhealthy, and if you eat too much that contributes to being overweight," detailed Dr. James Krieger, a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Washington.
"But just telling people there's a problem doesn't solve it."
Although the recent data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey does not explain why obesity rates are increasing, nutritionists believe that poor diet, a sedentary lifestyle and unlucky genetics are likely contributing factors.
According to Euromonitor, a business intelligence company, US fast food sales increased by 22.7 percent between 2012-2017. In addition, packaged food sales increased by 8.8 percent over the same period.
According to Dr. Craig Hales, co-author of the survey, an increase in childhood obesity "could be due to sampling error," suggesting that there was "no increasing or decreasing trends over the last 10 years."
However, "something different is happening with adults and youth," he noted, as reported by the New York Times.
Other experts disagree whether childhood obesity rates have increased or simply plateaued.
"We haven't turned the tide. If anything, rates are continuing to climb upwards," said Dr. David Ludwig, a nutrition professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Dr. William Dietz, director of the Stop Obesity Alliance at George Washington University, believes, however, that it is too early to reach a conclusion about a childhood obesity trend.
"I'm worried about it for sure, but we need two more years of data," he stated, the New York Times reported.