U.S. obesity rates remained steady at about 36%, but deaths caused by obesity have been significantly underestimated, according to two studies. Columbia University researcher Ryan Masters, who worked on the mortality study, said data show people are at risk of obesity at earlier ages, validating efforts to fight the epidemic by focusing on young children. The report on obesity prevalence found that after decades of bad news, efforts to encourage healthier diets and exercise may be having an effect.

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