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Inflammatory Fat

Unraveling the injurious biology of obesity

1:01pm, February 23, 2004

The United States is big, and getting bigger each year—at least around its collective waistline. Federal statistics indicate that as of 2001, one in five U.S. adults was obese. That's roughly 45 million people. Almost twice that many fall into the next category, overweight. Some 15 percent of children, ordinarily the most active and trim segment of the population, are also too heavy. These figures are growing at a dizzying pace. For instance, the number of obese adults today is 74 percent higher than it was in 1991.

The problem isn't merely aesthetic. As people get fatter, they become more prone to a host of chronic diseases—including

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