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Policymakers have been trying to make Americans thinner, but it's turning out to be a lot harder than many anticipated.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a discouraging finding for health advocates: Nearly 38 percent of U.S. adults were obese in 2013 and 2014, up significantly from 32 percent a decade earlier. Obesity rates have remained flat among youth. And there's a widening gap in obesity rates between the well-educated and those who aren't.

That's despite a patchwork of prevention efforts over the past decade that once had policymakers hopeful they'd be able to turn back the dial on obesity rates that have caused healthcare costs to skyrocket in the U.S.

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Some policies are aimed at improving access to healthy foods, like new federal school lunch requirements that first lady Michelle Obama has championed through her "Let's Move!" campaign to reduce childhood obesity.

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