The recent U.S obesity report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed little reward for the health community’s efforts to encourage Americans toward better eating habits and lower weights.
Nationwide, adult obesity was up from 30 percent in 2003 to 38 percent in 2014, with the rate slightly higher for women than men.
This gap is attributable to both nature and nurture.
“Women carry more body fat than men, have less muscle mass, and as a result don’t ‘burn’ calories as efficiently,” New York University Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health Marion Nestle told Quartz. “This is especially noticeable as women get older.” (Pregnancy and childbirth don’t help much, either.)
Lifestyle can also play a role, though. “[W]omen may more often be juggling work and managing the home,” David Katz, director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center, told Quartz over email. (As The New York Times reported last week, that is usually the case in the typical American home—even if men don’t realize it.)
The gap between men's and women’s rates of obesity is especially wide when race factors in, as Dr. Lisa Young, author of The Portion Teller pointed out. “The big difference is not among Whites but among Blacks and Hispanics,” she told Quartz.
The obesity rate among Black men was at 37.5 percent, but for women it stood at 56.9 percent. Among Hispanics, the difference was smaller, 39 percent compared with 45.7 percent, but still apparent.