Here’s another reason to choose fresh, organic food: The number of overweight/obese children, adolescents and men increased significantly between 1999 and 2004, according to a study in the April 5 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Between 1980 and 2002, obesity prevalence doubled in adults 20 and older, and overweight prevalence tripled in children and adolescents ages 6 to 19.

Dr. Cynthia L. Ogden and colleagues at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention examined national measurements of weight and height in 2003–2004 and compared the data with estimates from 1999–2000 and 2001–2002 to determine if the overweight trend is continuing. They found 17.1% of children and adolescents ages 2 to 19 were overweight, and 32.2% of adults 20 and older were obese in 2003–2004. The prevalence of extreme obesity among adults was 4.8%. There was a significant increase in the prevalence of overweight in female children and adolescents (13.8% in 1999–2000 to 16% in 2003–2004). There was also an increase in the prevalence of overweight in male children and adolescents from 14% to 18.2%.

Among men, the prevalence of obesity increased significantly from 1999–2000 (27.5%) to 2003–2004 (31.1%). Among women, no significant increase in obesity was observed between 1999–2000 (33.4%) and 2003–2004 (33.2%). The prevalence of extreme obesity in 2003–2004 was 2.8% in men and 6.9% in women.

“These prevalence estimates, based on a 6-year period (1999–2004), suggest that the increases in body weight may be leveling off in women,” the authors write.