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NCHS Fact Sheet

February 2012

 

NCHS Data on Obesity

 

PDF Version [211 KB]

 

About NCHS

The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) is the nation’s principal health statistics agency, providing data to identify and address health issues.  NCHS compiles statistical information to help guide public health and health policy decisions.

Collaborating with other public and private health partners, NCHS employs a variety of data collection mechanisms to obtain information from multiple sources.  This process provides a broad perspective to help us understand the population’s health, influences on health, and health outcomes.

 

Overview

The prevalence of obesity in the United States continues to be an important health issue. The primary data source for monitoring national prevalence and population trends in obesity is the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).  This survey obtains measured (rather than self-reported) data on height and weight. Obesity is defined using body mass index (BMI) or weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared, although definitions are different for adults and adolescents.

Obesity is associated with increased risk of a number of health conditions, including diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, stroke, arthritis and certain cancers.

 

Obesity Among Adults

More than one-third of adults, or about 78 million adults were obese in 2009-2010. This includes 35.5 percent of men and 35.8 percent of women.  There was no siginficant change among men or women when compared with 2003-2008 data.

  • Adults aged 60 and over were more likely to be obese than younger adults.
  • The prevalence of obesity was higher among older women compared with younger women, but there was no difference by age in obesity prevalence among men.
  • Between 1999–2000 and 2009–2010, the prevalence of obesity among men increased from 27.5 percent to 35.5 percent. There was no significant change among women, with 33.4 percent obese in 1999–2000 compared to 35.8 percent in 2009–2010.

figure1 is a bar chart showing the prevalence of obesity among adults aged 20 and over, by sex and age: United States, 2009 - 2010.
NOTE: Obesity defined as BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2.
Source: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2009-2010.

 

Obesity and Race/Ethnicity

  • Prevalence of obesity among men ranged from 36.2 percent among non-Hispanic white men to 38.8 percent among non-Hispanic black men.
  • Prevalence of obesity among women ranged from 32.2 percent among non-Hispanic white women to 58.5 percent among non-Hispanic black women. 
  • Within race/ethnicity groups, increases over the period 1999-2000 through 2009-2010 were statistically significant for both non-Hispanic black women and Mexican American women.

figure2 is a bar chart showing the prevalence of obesity among adults aged 20 and over, by sex and race: United States, 2009 - 2010.
NOTE: Obesity defined as BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2.
Source: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2009-2010.

 

Obesity Among Children and Adolescents

In 2009-2010, 16.9 percent of children and adolescents aged 2-19 years were obese. This includes 18.6 percent of boys and 15.0 percent of girls.

Among children and adolescents aged 2-19:

  • The prevalence of obesity was higher among adolescents than among preschool-aged children.
  • The prevalence of obesity was higher among boys than girls.
  • Among children and adolescents aged 2-19, more than 5 million girls and 7 million boys were obese.

figure3 is a bar chart showing the prevalence of obesity among children and adolescents aged 2-19 years, by sex and age: United States, 2009 - 2010.
NOTE: Obesity defined as BMI ≥ 95th percentile.
Source: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2009-2010.

 

Data Source:

  • National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)– collects information about the health and diet of people in the U.S. NHANES is unique in that it combines a home interview with physical examinations and laboratory tests conducted in a Mobile Examination Center. NHANES can directly measure conditions and provide reliable information on health conditions regardless of whether the survey respondent is aware of them. (NHANES Website)

 

For further information about NCHS and its programs, visit the NCHS Website, or call the Office of Planning, Budget and Legislation at 301-458-4100.

 

 
Contact Us:
  • National Center for Health Statistics
    3311 Toledo Rd
    Room 5419
    Hyattsville, MD 20782
  • 1 (800) 232-4636
  • Contact CDC–INFO
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