(NaturalNews) For the first time in over three years, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index poll has found that there are now more "normal weight" Americans than there are "overweight" Americans, which may signify a positive trend towards a national slimming down. However, more than 61 percent of Americans are still either "overweight" or "obese," which means that only about one third of all Americans currently have a healthy weight.
Polls can be tricky, as slight increases or decreases in results over a period of time are sometimes discounted by a margin of error. Nevertheless, the percentage of overweight Americans is the lowest it has been since Gallup-Healthways began tracking it in 2008, while obesity rates are the lowest they have been since late 2008. The percentage of normal weight Americans is also the highest it has been since the beginning of the tracking period.
Gallup considers individuals with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher to be "obese," while those with a BMI between 25.0 and 29.9 are considered "overweight." A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered to be "normal weight," while anything under 18.4 is considered "underweight."
"The recent slight decline in the nation's obesity rate is a positive contrast to the rising levels found in 2009 and throughout most of 2010," writes Gallup in a release on the new data. "However, the majority of Americans are still at an unhealthy weight -- either overweight or obese (61.6 percent)."
Between 2010 and 2011, obesity rates declined in every individual demographic category except for "Asians" and "Aged 65+." Blacks, Hispanics, Whites, middle-aged people, older people, younger people -- these and others all experienced drops in obesity rates of between 0.2 and 1.0 percent. Meanwhile, the obesity rate among Asians rose by 3.3 percent, while the obesity rate remained the same in the Aged 65+ category.
"[I]t is an encouraging sign that obesity rates are trending downward in the US and among demographic subgroups," adds Gallup. "Regardless of the exact cause, if this downward trend continues, it could significantly reduce healthcare costs in the United States, a major portion of which are currently the result of obesity and related preventable chronic conditions."
According to data released by the National Bureau of Economic Research, obesity and obesity-related illness currently costs the US nearly $170 billion a year, and is expected to more than double to $344 billion by 2018 (http://www.naturalnews.com/027868_obesity_he...).