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Women gaining nearly twice as much weight as men, study finds

Adults in the U.S. gain an average of 45 pounds from their 20s through their 60s, and women are gaining weight at twice the rate of men, new research from Brigham Young University shows.

The article, published in the Journal of Obesity, examined weight gain in more than 13,800 adults — "a rare data point unearthed in obesity research," according to BYU. Of those, more than half gained 5% or more of their body weight over a 10-year period. More than a third gained at least 10% of their body weight, and nearly one in five participants gained at least 20% of their body weight.

"The U.S. obesity epidemic is not slowing down," Larry Tucker, a BYU professor of exercise science and the study’s lead author, said. "Without question, 10-year weight gain is a serious problem within the U.S. adult population."

Weight gain was twice as high in women than men, researchers said, with women gaining an average of 12 pounds over 10 years compared to 6 pounds for men.

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On average, participants gained this much weight in each decade:

  • 17.6 pounds between their 20s and 30s
  • 14.3 pounds between their 30s and 40s
  • 9.5 pounds between their 40s and 50s
  • 4.6 pounds between their 50s and 60s

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 42% of Americans are considered obese, up from 30.5% in 2000.

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Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (your weight in kilograms divided by your square height in meters) of 30 or higher. Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer — among the leading causes of preventable, premature death.

"By knowing who is more likely to become obese, we can help health care providers and public health officials focus more on at-risk individuals," Tucker said.