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Prevalence of overweight, infants and children less than 2 years of age: United States, 2003-2004

Results from the 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), using measured recumbent lengths and weights, indicate that an estimated 9.5% percent of infants and children less than 2 years of age were overweight. Table 1 shows the prevalence of overweight from birth through 23 months and from 6 through 23 months of age for selected years. NHANES 1976-1980 included individuals only as young as 6 months of age while NHANES 1988-1994 included individuals 2 months of age and older. Beginning in 1999-2000, NHANES included individuals from birth. Therefore, trends from 1976-1980 to the present can only be done for the 6-23 month age group. Overweight was defined as weight >= 95th percentile of weight-for-recumbent length on the sex-specific growth charts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

NHANES surveys use a stratified, multistage, probability sample of the civilian non-institutionalized U.S. population. A household interview and a physical examination were conducted for each survey participant. During the physical examination, conducted in mobile examination centers, recumbent length and weight were measured as part of a more comprehensive set of body measurements. These measurements were taken by trained health technicians, using standardized measuring procedures and equipment. Observations for persons missing a valid recumbent length or weight measurement were not included in the data analysis.

Table 1. Prevalence of overweight among infants and children less than 2 years of age, for selected years 1976-80 through 2003-2004
Age (months) NHANES
Birth-23 mo 10.4 7.9 9.5
6-23 mo 5.7 8.9 10.5 7.8 10.1

For additional information on overweight in the US see:

  • Page last reviewed: November 6, 2015
  • Page last updated: April 7, 2010
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