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Prevalence of Overweight, Obesity, and Extreme Obesity Among Adults: United States, 1960–1962 Through 2011–2012

by Cheryl D. Fryar, M.S.P.H.; Margaret D. Carroll, M.S.P.H.; and Cynthia L. Ogden, Ph.D., Division of Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys

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Results from the 2011–2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), using measured heights and weights, indicate that an estimated 33.9% of U.S. adults aged 20 and over are overweight, 35.1% are obese, and 6.4% are extremely obese. Body mass index (BMI), expressed as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared (kg/m2), is commonly used to classify overweight (BMI 25.0–29.9), obesity (BMI greater than or equal to 30.0), and extreme obesity (BMI greater than or equal to 40.0).

Age-adjusted trends in obesity and overweight prevalence since 1988–1994 are shown in Table 1. It is also possible to examine trends since 1960 among adults aged 20–74 (Table 2). The age-adjusted sex-specific trends of overweight, obesity, and extreme obesity are shown in the figure. Table 3 shows the age-adjusted estimates of obesity prevalence by race and Hispanic origin for men and women since 1988–1994.

The prevalence of obesity as measured by BMI among non-Hispanic Asian adults was much lower than that reported for non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, and Hispanic adults. Although BMI is widely used as a measure of body fat, at a given BMI level body fat may vary by sex, age, and race and Hispanic origin. In particular, research suggests that Asian persons may have more body fat than white persons, especially at lower BMIs, and that health risks may begin at a lower BMI among Asian persons compared with others.

NHANES, conducted by CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), is a stratified, multistage probability sample of the civilian noninstitutionalized population of the United States. The survey began oversampling non-Hispanic Asian persons in 2011–2012, and the total Hispanic population in 2007–2008. Beginning in 2007–2008, Mexican American persons were no longer oversampled but are included in the oversampled total Hispanic population.

A household interview and a physical examination are conducted for each survey participant. During the physical examination, conducted in a mobile examination center, height and weight are measured as part of a comprehensive set of body measurements. These measurements are taken by trained health technicians, using standardized measuring procedures and equipment. Observations for pregnant women and for persons missing a valid height or weight measurement were not included in the data analysis.

For additional information on NHANES methods, visit the NHANES methods page.

Figure

Figure. Trends in adult overweight, obesity, and extreme obesity among men and women aged 20–74: United States, selected years 1960–1962 through 2011–2012

The figure is a line graph showing trends in adult overweight, obesity, and extreme obesity among U.S. men and women aged 20 to 74 for the period 1960 to 1962 through 2011 to 2012.

NOTES: Age-adjusted by the direct method to the year 2000 U.S. Census Bureau estimates using age groups 20–39, 40–59, and 60–74. Pregnant females were excluded. Overweight is body mass index (BMI) of 25 or greater but less 30; obesity is BMI greater than or equal to 30; and extreme obesity is BMI greater than or equal to 40.

SOURCE: CDC/NCHS, National Health Examination Survey 1960–1962; and National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys 1971–1974; 1976–1980; 1988–1994; 1999–2000, 2001–2002, 2003–2004, 2005–2006, 2007–2008, 2009–2010, and 2011–2012.

Tables

Table 1a. Age-adjusted prevalence of overweight, obesity, and extreme obesity among adults aged 20 and over: United States, selected years 1988–1994 through 2011–2012
Survey period Sample (n) Overweight Obese Extremely obese
Percent (standard error)
1988–1994 16,235 33.1 (0.6) 22.9 (0.7) 2.8 (0.2)
1999–2000 4,117 34.0 (1.0) 30.5 (1.5) 4.7 (0.6)
2001–2002 4,413 35.1 (1.1) 30.5 (1.1) 5.1 (0.5)
2003–2004 4,431 34.1 (1.1) 32.2 (1.2) 4.8 (0.6)
2005–2006 4,356 32.6 (0.8) 34.3 (1.4) 5.9 (0.5)
2007–2008 5,550 34.3 (0.8) 33.7 (1.1) 5.7 (0.4)
2009–2010 5,926 33.0 (1.0) 35.7 (0.9) 6.3 (0.2)
2011–2012 5,181 33.6 (1.3) 34.9 (1.4) 6.4 (0.6)

NOTES: Overweight is body mass index (BMI) greater than or equal to 25.0 kg/m2 and less than 30.0 kg/m2. Obese is BMI greater than or equal to 30.0 kg/m2. Extremely obese is BMI greater than or equal to 40.0 kg/m2. Age-adjusted by the direct method to the year 2000 U.S. Census Bureau estimates using the age groups 20–39, 40–59, and 60 and over. Crude estimates (not age-adjusted) for 2011–2012 are 33.9% overweight, 35.1% obese, and 6.4% extremely obese. Pregnant females were excluded from the analysis.

SOURCE: CDC/NCHS, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Table 1b. Age-adjusted prevalence of overweight, obesity, and extreme obesity among men aged 20 and over: United States, selected years 1988–1994 through 2011–2012
Survey period Overweight Obese Extremely obese
Percent (standard error)
1988–1994 40.7 (0.8) 20.2 (0.7) 1.7 (0.3)
1999–2000 39.7 (1.4) 27.5 (1.5) 3.1 (0.7)
2001–2002 42.2 (1.3) 27.7 (1.0) 3.6 (0.6)
2003–2004 39.7 (1.5) 31.1 (1.3) 2.8 (0.4)
2005–2006 39.9 (1.3) 33.3 (2.0) 4.2 (0.5)
2007–2008 40.1 (1.4) 32.2 (1.4) 4.2 (0.5)
2009–2010 38.4 (1.1) 35.5 (1.7) 4.4 (0.3)
2011–2012 37.8 (1.5) 33.5 (1.4) 4.4 (0.9)

NOTES: Overweight is body mass index (BMI) greater than or equal to 25.0 kg/m2 and less than 30.0 kg/m2. Obese is BMI greater than or equal to 30.0 kg/m2. Extremely obese is BMI greater than or equal to 40.0 kg/m2. Age-adjusted by the direct method to the year 2000 U.S. Census Bureau estimates using the age groups 20–39, 40–59, and 60 and over.

SOURCE: CDC/NCHS, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Table 1c. Age-adjusted prevalence of overweight, obesity, and extreme obesity among women aged 20 and over: United States, selected years 1988–1994 through 2011–2012
Survey period Overweight Obese Extremely obese
Percent (standard error)
1988–1994 25.9 (0.7) 25.4 (0.7) 3.9 (0.3)
1999–2000 28.6 (1.6) 33.4 (1.7) 6.2 (0.7)
2001–2002 28.2 (1.7) 33.2 (1.5) 6.5 (0.6)
2003–2004 28.6 (1.2) 33.2 (1.7) 6.9 (0.9)
2005–2006 25.5 (1.2) 35.3 (1.4) 7.4 (0.7)
2007–2008 28.6 (1.2) 35.4 (1.1) 7.3 (0.6)
2009–2010 27.9 (1.4) 35.8 (0.9) 8.1 (0.5)
2011–2012 29.7 (1.8) 36.1 (1.7) 8.3 (0.7)

NOTES: Overweight is body mass index (BMI) greater than or equal to 25.0 kg/m2 and less than 30.0 kg/m2. Obese is BMI greater than or equal to 30.0 kg/m2. Extremely obese is BMI greater than or equal to 40.0 kg/m2. Age-adjusted by the direct method to the year 2000 U.S. Census Bureau estimates using the age groups 20–39, 40–59, and 60 and over. Pregnant females were excluded from the analysis.

SOURCE: CDC/NCHS, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Table 2a. Age-adjusted prevalence of overweight, obesity, and extreme obesity among adults aged 20–74: United States, selected years 1960–1962 through 2011–2012
Survey period Sample (n) Overweight Obese Extremely obese
Percent (standard error)
1960–1962 6,126 31.5 (0.5) 13.4 (0.5) 0.9 (0.1)
1971–1974 12,911 32.7 (0.6) 14.5 (0.5) 1.3 (0.2)
1976–1980 11,765 32.1 (0.6) 15.0 (0.4) 1.4 (0.1)
1988–1994 14,319 32.6 (0.6) 23.2 (0.7) 3.0 (0.3)
1999–2000 3,603 33.6 (1.1) 30.9 (1.6) 5.0 (0.6)
2001–2002 3,916 34.4 (1.1) 31.2 (1.1) 5.4 (0.5)
2003–2004 3,756 33.4 (1.2) 32.9 (1.4) 5.1 (0.6)
2005–2006 3,835 32.2 (0.9) 35.1 (1.5) 6.2(0.5)
2007–2008 4,876 33.6 (0.8) 34.3 (1.2) 6.0 (0.4)
2009–2010 5,279 32.7 (1.0) 36.1 (0.9) 6.6 (0.3)
2011–2012 4,674 33.3 (1.4) 35.3 (1.4) 6.6 (0.6)

NOTES: Overweight is body mass index (BMI) greater than or equal to 25.0 kg/m2 and less than 30.0 kg/m2. Obese is BMI greater than or equal to 30.0 kg/m2. Extremely obese is BMI greater than or equal to 40.0 kg/m2. Age-adjusted by the direct method to the year 2000 U.S. Census Bureau estimates using the age groups 20–39, 40–59, and 60–74. NHES 1960–1962 included adults aged 18–79, and NHANES 1971–1974 and 1976–1980 did not include individuals over age 74, so trend estimates are based on ages 20–74. Pregnant females were excluded from the analysis.

SOURCE: CDC/NCHS, National Health Examination Survey and National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Table 2b. Age-adjusted prevalence of overweight, obesity, and extreme obesity among men aged 20–74: United States, selected years 1960–1962 through 2011–2012
Survey period Overweight Obese Extremely obese
Percent (standard error)
1960–1962 38.7 (0.7) 10.7 (0.7) *0.3 (0.1)
1971–1974 41.7 (1.1) 12.1 (0.6) 0.6 (0.2)
1976–1980 39.9 (0.8) 12.7 (0.6) 0.4 (0.1)
1988–1994 40.3 (0.8) 20.5 (0.7) 1.8 (0.3)
1999–2000 39.2 (1.5) 27.7 (1.6) 3.3 (0.7)
2001–2002 41.5 (1.5) 28.3 (1.1) 3.9 (0.7)
2003–2004 39.4 (1.5) 31.7 (1.4) 3.0 (0.4)
2005–2006 39.7 (1.3) 33.8 (2.2) 4.3 (0.5)
2007–2008 39.4 (1.4) 32.5 (1.5) 4.4 (0.5)
2009–2010 38.0 (1.2) 35.9 (1.7) 4.6 (0.4)
2011–2012 37.3 (1.5) 33.9 (1.5) 4.5 (1.0)

* Estimate has a relative standard error greater than 30% and less than or equal to 40% and should be used with caution because it does not meet standards of reliability or precision.

NOTES: Overweight is body mass index (BMI) greater than or equal to 25.0 kg/m2 and less than 30.0 kg/m2. Obese is BMI greater than or equal to 30.0 kg/m2. Extremely obese is BMI greater than or equal to 40.0 kg/m2. Age-adjusted by the direct method to the year 2000 U.S. Census Bureau estimates using the age groups 20–39, 40–59, and 60–74. NHES 1960–1962 included adults aged 18–79, and NHANES 1971–1974 and 1976–1980 did not include individuals over age 74, so trend estimates are based on ages 20–74.

SOURCE: CDC/NCHS, National Health Examination Survey and National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Table 2c. Age-adjusted prevalence of overweight, obesity, and extreme obesity among women aged 20–74: United States, selected years 1960–1962 through 2011–2012
Survey period Overweight Obese Extremely obese
Percent (standard error)
1960–1962 24.7 (0.8) 15.8 (0.6) 1.4 (0.2)
1971–1974 24.3 (0.7) 16.6 (0.6) 2.0 (0.3)
1976–1980 24.9 (0.8) 17.0 (0.6) 2.2 (0.3)
1988–1994 25.1 (0.8) 25.9 (1.0) 4.1 (0.3)
1999–2000 28.0 (1.7) 34.0 (1.8) 6.6 (0.7)
2001–2002 27.3 (1.6) 34.1 (1.6) 6.8 (0.6)
2003–2004 27.3 (1.3) 34.0 (1.9) 7.3 (1.0)
2005–2006 24.7 (1.3) 36.3 (1.5) 7.9 (0.8)
2007–2008 27.9 (1.2) 36.2 (1.3) 7.6 (1.0)
2009–2010 27.5 (1.5) 36.1 (0.9) 8.5 (0.5)
2011–2012 29.5 (2.0) 36.6 (1.6) 8.6 (0.7)

NOTES: Overweight is body mass index (BMI) greater than or equal to 25.0 kg/m2 and less than 30.0 kg/m2. Obese is BMI greater than or equal to 30.0 kg/m2. Extremely obese is BMI greater than or equal to 40.0 kg/m2. Age-adjusted by the direct method to the year 2000 U.S. Census Bureau estimates using the age groups 20–39, 40–59, and 60–74. NHES 1960–1962 included adults aged 18–79, and NHANES 1971–1974 and 1976–1980 did not include individuals over age 74, so trend estimates are based on ages 20–74. Pregnant females were excluded from the analysis.

SOURCE: CDC/NCHS, National Health Examination Survey and National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Table 3a. Age-adjusted prevalence of obesity among men aged 20 and over, by race and Hispanic origin: United States, selected years 1988–1994 through 2011–2012
Survey period Non-Hispanic white Non-Hispanic black Non-Hispanic Asian Hispanic Mexican American
Percent (standard error)
1988–1994 20.3 (0.9) 21.1 (1.0) --- --- 23.9 (1.0)
1999–2000 27.3 (1.8) 27.9 (1.6) --- --- 28.9 (1.9)
2001–2002 29.0 (1.3) 27.9 (2.0) --- --- 25.9 (2.0)
2003–2004 31.1 (1.5) 34.0 (3.5) --- --- 31.6 (2.5)
2005–2006 33.0 (2.2) 37.0 (2.4) --- --- 27.0 (1.9)
2007–2008 31.9 (1.9) 37.2 (2.5) --- 34.2 (3.0) 35.8 (3.5)
2009–2010 36.2 (2.1) 38.8 (2.3) --- 37.0 (2.2) 38.6 (2.4)
2011–2012 32.4 (1.3) 37.1 (1.9) 10.0 (1.6) 40.1 (2.1) 44.0 (2.6)

--- Data not available.

NOTES: Obesity is body mass index greater than or equal to 30 kg/m2. Age-adjusted by the direct method to the year 2000 U.S. Census Bureau estimates using the age groups 20–39, 40–59, and 60 and over.

SOURCE: CDC/NCHS, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Table 3b. Age-adjusted prevalence of obesity among women aged 20 and over, by race and Hispanic origin: United States, selected years 1988–1994 through 2011–2012
Survey period Non-Hispanic white Non-Hispanic black Non-Hispanic Asian Hispanic Mexican American
Percent (standard error)
1988–1994 22.9 (1.1) 38.4 (1.4) --- --- 35.4 (1.4)
1999–2000 30.1 (2.1) 49.5 (3.0) --- --- 39.5 (3.9)
2001–2002 31.2 (1.6) 48.2 (2.7) --- --- 37.0 (3.2)
2003–2004 30.2 (2.1) 53.9 (3.0) --- --- 42.3 (2.7)
2005–2006 32.9 (1.8) 52.9 (2.1) --- --- 42.1 (2.8)
2007–2008 33.0 (1.8) 49.4 (2.0) --- 43.0 (2.6) 45.1 (3.1)
2009–2010 32.2 (1.4) 58.5 (2.8) --- 41.4 (2.0) 44.9 (1.6)
2011–2012 32.8 (2.7) 56.6 (2.1) 11.4 (2.2) 44.4 (2.1) 49.2 (3.4)

--- Data not available.

NOTES: Obesity is body mass index greater than or equal to 30 kg/m2. Age-adjusted by the direct method to the year 2000 U.S. Census Bureau estimates using the age groups 20–39, 40–59, and 60 and over. Pregnant females were excluded from the analysis.

SOURCE: CDC/NCHS, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

For more detailed estimates, see:
  • Flegal KM, Carroll MD, Ogden CL, Johnson CL. Prevalence and trends in obesity among US adults, 1999–2000. JAMA 288(14):1723–7. 2002.
  • Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Curtin LR, McDowell MA, Tabak CJ, Flegal KM. Prevalence of overweight and obesity in the United States, 1999–2004. JAMA 295(13):1549–55. 2006.
  • Ogden CL, Carroll MD, McDowell MA, Flegal KM. Obesity among adults in the United States—No statistically significant change since 2003–2004 [PDF - 366 KB]. NCHS data brief no 1. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2007.
  • Flegal KM, Carroll MD, Ogden CL, Curtin LR. Prevalence and trends in obesity among US adults, 1999–2008. JAMA 303(3):235–41. 2010.
  • Flegal KM, Carroll MD, Kit BK, Ogden CL. Prevalence of obesity and trends in the distribution of body mass index among US adults, 1999–2010. JAMA. 307(5):491–7. 2012.
  • Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Kit BK, Flegal KM. Prevalence of childhood and adult obesity in the United States, 2011–2012. JAMA 311(8):806–14. 2014.

This Health E-Stat supersedes the earlier versions below:

  • Page last reviewed: November 6, 2015
  • Page last updated: September 19, 2014
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