Americans are fat and getting fatter. But now pharmaceutical companies are rolling out new prescription drugs that really do help people lose and keep off significant amounts of body fat. Celebrities like Elon Musk have touted their benefits. The side effects appear minimal, but the weight stays off only as long as users keep injecting the drugs weekly.
The share of overweight Americans has been ticking relentlessly upward. In 1960, 31.5 percent of adults in the U.S. were overweight (13.4 percent of whom were obese); today, 73 percent are overweight (42.4 percent of whom are obese.). Overweight and obese are defined as having a body mass index over 25 and 30, respectively. A body mass index measures the ratio of a person's height to his weight to roughly estimate his amount of body fat.
The increase in weight has been accompanied by a rise in the number of Americans diagnosed with diabetes, which rose from 5.5 million in 1980 to 28.7 million in 2020. Around 96 million Americans have prediabetes, a condition characterized by slightly elevated blood glucose levels, regarded as indicative that a person is at risk of progressing to Type 2 diabetes.