The U.S. obesity rate has increased rapidly over the last several decades because of changes in Americans’ diets and patterns of physical activity. Obesity increases risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and other serious health problems.
Researchers supported by the Population Dynamics Branch examined the rates of change in height, weight, and body mass index (BMI) from 1959 to 2008, using data from national health surveys. Their goal was to understand the magnitude of the changes we have experienced in body size and to put these changes into context. Their study was the first to use a metric called a “Haldane” to measure observed changes in human health. The haldane was developed by evolutionary biologists to study how much species’ traits change over each generation.
The researchers found that (PMID: 23220719):
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