The battle of the bulge is still a losing one, according to a new report released this November by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The report, conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), found that adult obesity rates in the U.S. have only risen in the past three years, after having stayed relatively stable throughout the previous decade. Furthermore, women have definitively become the heavier gender, with a 38 percent rate versus 34 percent seen in men. About the only saving grace is that rates of child obesity have remained level, at 17 percent.

The Obesity Gap

In order to come to their conclusions, the report authors scoured data taken from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHNES), a representative survey of 5,000 or so Americans performed annually by the CDC. Unlike your standard online poll, the NHNES actually requires its participants, recruited from across the country, to undergo physical examinations. This allowed the current researchers to accurately calculate the subjects’ obesity rate, as judged by their Body Mass Index, or BMI. While BMI is hardly the perfect measure of an individual’s health, it’s an effective enough tool when used on large populations. The researchers specifically keyed in on NHNES data from 2011 to 2014.

Compared to 2011-2012, the obesity rate among all adults (20 and older) climbed to 37.7 percent, from 34.9 percent. These numbers bode especially worse for minority groups, particularly black and Hispanic women. Nearly 46 percent of Hispanic women and nearly 57 percent of black women were obese, greatly overshadowing men at 39 percent and 37.5 percent, respectively. When it came to age, those 40 to 59 were the heaviest, at just a smidge over 40 percent, but this again broke down across gender lines, with 42 percent of women aged 40-59 obese.

The figures are particularly sobering in light of encouraging research showing that some contributing factors of obesity, like soft-drink consumption, have declined among Americans in recent years. NHNES data prior to 2011-2014 also indicated that we had reached a obesity plateau since 2005. Earlier this November, Medical Daily reported on research finding that Americans’ diets have become noticeably healthier since 1999. The study, however, only looked as far back as 2012, meaning that any recent trends of unhealthy eating may have gone unnoticed. As with obesity in general, the reasons behind our continuing weight gain are likely complex.

All hope isn't lost, though. Not only has the child obesity rate remained steady, but the rate in preschool children (2 to 5) at 8.9 percent is still below the 9.4 percent target goal set by Healthy People 2020, a 10-year-long national initiative to improve health promotion and disease prevention efforts.

Source: Ogden C, Carroll M, Fryar C, et al. Prevalence of Obesity Among Adults and Youth: United States, 2011–2014. NCHS. 2015.