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American Bellies Are Getting Bigger

A large waistline puts a person at risk for metabolic disease and other complications.
Fat overweight obese

Researchers call it abdominal adiposity. People refer to the expanding waistline as a tubby tummy.

Packing on pounds around the belly has become increasingly common. According to the CDC, the average American waistline has been growing for the past 14 years.

The average waist circumference rose from 37.6 inches in 1999 to 38.8 inches in 2012. Men gained almost an inch whereas women gained an inch and a half.

The number of people categorized as having abdominal obesity went from 46 percent in 1999 to 54 percent in 2012. Waistlines greater than 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women qualify as abdominal adiposity.

Belly fat is especially worrisome because it contributes to metabolic syndrome and the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

[JAMA, Sept 17, 2014]


This is a troubling development, since a person could have fat around the middle without becoming overweight according to the scale. A healthy lifestyle overall will help to offset this risk factor, but to actually drop inches from the waistline, we haven’t found anything better than a low-carb diet.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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Question: When the word “waist” is used, do they refer to your actual waist where your belt goes …….. or do they mean the full circumference of your stomach at its greatest extent?

we have too much prepared food with loads of sodium and our meats are be pumped with steroids to grow faster and bigger, people do not take the time to prepare a meal at home, that is what I can see in store’s
and at work..

I was surprised to see advertisements right in the midst of what I thought was a
“regular” article – like I’m used to seeing and reading. This one, for 5 foods etc., was so long, I forgot I was on your site !

It must have taken about 40 minutes ! WHY are you doing that? I liked them (ads) on the side so I could identify them and NOT look at them if I so chose.

What is “location””, above?

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Thank you for your comment.

Is something changing in our metabolisms? Is this something new…we are not getting fatter but are getting bigger bellies? Diet related?

Something has changed in our food: a lot of added chemicals, some of which are known endocrine disruptors. Your endocrine system includes your thyroid, which regulates your metabolism. So even if you cook, rather than empty boxes, bags and cans, unless you buy organic, your food is loaded with stuff which may be very detrimental to your health. Going organic for a lot of people means growing your own, like the Victory Gardens during WW2. There is not enough organic food produced in this country to feed all of us, should we decide to switch. And as demand goes up, when quantity is limited, so does price. I am 76, I remember when it was all organic, including the canned vegetables my mother used.

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