Prevalence of Overweight, Obesity, and Severe Obesity Among Children and Adolescents Aged 2–19 Years: United States, 1963–1965 Through 2017–2018

by Cheryl D. Fryar, M.S.P.H., Margaret D. Carroll, M.S.P.H., and Joseph Afful, M.S., Division of Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys

PDF Versionpdf icon (326 KB)

Body mass index (BMI), expressed as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared (kg/m2), is used commonly to classify obesity among adults, and also is recommended for use with children and adolescents. Cutoff criteria are based on the sex-specific BMI-for-age 2000 CDC Growth Charts for the United States. Based on recommendations from expert committees, children and adolescents with BMI values at or above the 95th percentile of the growth charts are categorized as having obesity. Severe obesity is BMI at or above 120% of the 95th percentile.

Results from the 2017–2018 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), using measured heights and weights, indicate that an estimated 19.3% of U.S. children and adolescents aged 2–19 years have obesity, including 6.1% with severe obesity, and another 16.1% are overweight.

Table 1 shows the prevalence of overweight, obesity, and severe obesity among children and adolescents aged 2–19 years from 1971–1974 through 2017–2018.

Estimates of the prevalence of childhood obesity during the 1960s are available for certain age groups. Table 2 shows the prevalence of obesity among children and adolescents aged 2–5, 6–11, and 12–19 years since 1963–1965, by sex and age. The Figure shows trends in obesity by age.

Table 3 shows the prevalence of obesity by race and Hispanic origin among children and adolescents aged 2–19 years since 1988–1994.

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 health risks may begin at a lower BMI among Asian persons compared with others (1,2).

NHANES, conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics, is a stratified, multistage probability sample of the civilian noninstitutionalized population of the United States. 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 more comprehensive set of body measurements. These measurements are taken by trained health technicians, using standardized measuring procedures and equipment.

Observations for persons missing a valid height or weight measurement and for pregnant females are not included in the data analysis.

For additional information on NHANES methods, visit: https://wwwn.cdc.gov/nchs/nhanes/ analyticguidelines.aspx.

For more detailed estimates, see:

  • Ogden CL, Flegal KM, Carroll MD, Johnson CL. Prevalence and trends in overweight among US children and adolescents, 1999–2000. JAMA 288(14):1728–32. 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, Flegal KM. High body mass index for age among US children and adolescents, 2003–2006. JAMA 299(20):2401–5. 2008.
  • Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Curtin LR, Lamb MM, Flegal KM. Prevalence of high body mass index in US children and adolescents, 2007–2008. JAMA 303(3):242–9. 2010.
  • Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Kit BK, Flegal KM. Prevalence of obesity and trends in body mass index among US children and adolescents, 1999–2010. JAMA 307(5):483–90. 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.
  • Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Lawman HG, Fryar CD, Kruszon-Moran D, Kit BK, Flegal KM. Trends in obesity prevalence among children and adolescents in the United States, 1988–1994 through 2013–2014. JAMA 315(21):2292–9. 2016.
  • Hales CM, Fryar CD, Carroll MD, Freedman DS, Ogden CL. Trends in obesity and severe obesity prevalence in US youth and adults by sex and age, 2007–2008 to 2015–2016. JAMA 319(16):1723–5. 2018.
  • Ogden CL, Fryar CD, Martin CB, Freedman DS, Carroll MD, Gu Q, Hales CM. Trends in obesity prevalence by race and Hispanic origin—1999–2000 to 2017–2018. JAMA 324(12):1208–10. 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.14590.

References

1. Deurenberg P, Deurenberg-Yap M, Guricci S. Asians are different from Caucasians and from each other in their body mass index/body fat per cent relationship. Obes Rev 3(3):141–6. 2002.

2. Jafar TH, Islam M, Poulter N, Hatcher J, Schmid CH, Levey AS, Chaturvedi N. Children in South Asia have higher body mass-adjusted blood pressure levels than white children in the United States: A comparative study. Circulation 111(10):1291–7. 2005.

This Health E-Stat supersedes the earlier version, “Prevalence of Overweight, Obesity, and Severe Obesity Among Children and Adolescents Aged 2–19 Years: United States, 1963–1965 Through 2015–2016.”

Suggested citation

Fryar CD, Carroll MD, Afful J. Prevalence of overweight, obesity, and severe obesity among children and adolescents aged 2–19 years: United States, 1963–1965 through 2017–2018. NCHS Health E-Stats. 2020

Figure

Figure. Trends in obesity among children and adolescents aged 2–19 years, by age: United States, 1963–1965 through 2017–2018

Figure is a four-line graph showing obesity among children and adolescents ages 2–19 years in the United States for 1963–1965 through 2017–2018image icon

NOTE: Obesity is body mass index (BMI) at or above the 95th percentile from the sex-specific BMI-for-age 2000 CDC Growth Charts.
SOURCES: National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Examination Surveys II (ages 6–11), III (ages 12–17); and National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) I–III, and NHANES 1999–2000, 2001–2002, 2003–2004, 2005–2006, 2007–2008, 2009–2010, 2011–2012, 2013–2014, 2015–2016, and 2017–2018.

 

Tables

Table 1. Prevalence of overweight, obesity, and severe obesity among children and adolescents aged 2–19 years, by sex: United States, 1971–1974 through 2017–2018

Survey period Sample (n)
All1 Boys Girls1
Overweight Obesity Severe obesity Overweight Obesity Severe obesity Overweight Obesity Severe obesity
                                                                                                                              Percent (standard error)
1971–1974 7,041 10.2 (0.6) 5.2 (0.3) 1.0 (0.1) 10.3 (0.8) 5.3 (0.5) 1.0 (0.2) 10.1 (0.8) 5.1 (0.4) 1.0 (0.2)
1976–1980 7,351 9.2 (0.4) 5.5 (0.4) 1.3 (0.2) 9.4 (0.6) 5.4 (0.4) 1.2 (0.3) 9.0 (0.5) 5.6 (0.6) 1.3 (0.3)
1988–1994 10,777 13.0 (0.7) 10.0 (0.5) 2.6 (0.4) 12.6 (0.9) 10.2 (0.7) 2.7 (0.5) 13.4 (0.9) 9.8 (0.8) 2.6 (0.4)
1999–2000 4,039 14.2 (0.9) 13.9 (0.9) 3.6 (0.5) 15.0 (1.9) 14.0 (1.2) 3.7 (0.7) 13.4 (0.8) 13.8 (1.1) 3.6 (0.6)
2001–2002 4,261 14.6 (0.6) 15.4 (0.9) 5.2 (0.5) 14.2 (0.7) 16.4 (1.0) 6.1 (0.8) 15.0 (0.9) 14.3 (1.3) 4.2 (0.6)
2003–2004 3,961 16.5 (0.8) 17.1 (1.3) 5.1 (0.6) 16.6 (1.0) 18.2 (1.5) 5.4 (0.8) 16.3 (0.9) 16.0 (1.4) 4.7 (0.7)
2005–2006 4,207 14.6 (0.9) 15.4 (1.4) 4.7 (0.6) 14.7 (1.2) 15.9 (1.5) 4.9 (0.8) 14.6 (1.0) 14.9 (1.6) 4.5 (0.7)
2007–2008 3,249 14.8 (0.7) 16.8 (1.3) 4.9 (0.6) 14.3 (0.7) 17.7 (1.4) 5.5 (0.8) 15.4 (1.5) 15.9 (1.5) 4.3 (0.8)
2009–2010 3,408 14.9 (0.8) 16.9 (0.7) 5.6 (0.6) 14.4 (1.0) 18.6 (1.1) 6.4 (1.0) 15.4 (0.9) 15.0 (0.8) 4.7 (0.6)
2011–2012 3,355 14.9 (0.9) 16.9 (1.0) 5.6 (0.7) 15.4 (1.3) 16.7 (1.4) 5.7 (0.9) 14.5 (1.4) 17.2 (1.2) 5.5 (0.8)
2013–2014 3,523 16.2 (0.6) 17.2 (1.1) 6.0 (0.6) 16.4 (0.8) 17.2 (1.3) 5.6 (0.6) 16.0 (1.0) 17.1 (1.6) 6.3 (0.9)
2015–2016 3,340 16.6 (0.8) 18.5 (1.3) 5.6 (0.8) 15.7 (1.0) 19.1 (1.7) 6.3 (1.0) 17.6 (1.2) 17.8 (1.2) 4.9 (0.9)
2017–2018 2,824 16.1 (0.8) 19.3 (1.0) 6.1 (0.7) 14.7 (1.2) 20.5 (1.1) 6.9 (0.9) 17.6 (1.1) 18.0 (1.4) 5.2 (0.7)

1Excludes pregnant females.
NOTES: Overweight is body mass index (BMI) at or above the 85th percentile and below the 95th percentile from the sex-specific BMI-for-age 2000 CDC Growth Charts. Obesity is BMI at or above the 95th percentile. Severe obesity is BMI at or above 120% of the 95th percentile.
SOURCE: National Center for Health Statistics, National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, 1971–1974, 1976–1980, 1988–1994, and 1999–2018.

Table 2. Prevalence of obesity among children and adolescents aged 2–19 years, by sex and age: United States, 1963–1965 through 2017–2018

Survey period
All1 Boys Girls1
2–5 years 6–11 years 12–19 years 2–5 years 6–11 years 12–19 years 2–5 years 6–11 years 12–19 years
                                                                                                                              Percent (standard error)
1963–1965 – – – 4.2 (0.4) – – – – – – 4.0 (0.4) – – – – – – 4.5 (0.6) – – –
1966–19702 – – – – – – 4.6 (0.3) – – – – – – 4.5 (0.4) – – – – – – 4.7 (0.3)
1971–1974 5.0 (0.6) 4.0 (0.5) 6.1 (0.6) 5.0 (0.8) 4.3 (0.8) 6.1 (0.8) 4.9 (0.8) 3.6 (0.6) 6.2 (0.8)
1976–1980 5.0 (0.6) 6.5 (0.6) 5.0 (0.5) 4.7 (0.6) 6.6 (0.8) 4.8 (0.5) 5.3 (1.0) 6.4 (1.0) 5.3 (0.8)
1988–1994 7.2 (0.7) 11.3 (1.0) 10.5 (0.9) 6.2 (0.8) 11.6 (1.3) 11.3 (1.3) 8.2 (1.0) 11.0 (1.4) 9.7 (1.1)
1999–2000 10.3 (1.7) 15.1 (1.4) 14.8 (0.9) 9.5 (2.3) 15.8 (1.8) 14.8 (1.3) 11.2 (2.5) 14.3 (2.1) 14.8 (1.0)
2001–2002 10.6 (1.8) 16.2 (1.6) 16.7 (1.1) 10.7 (2.4) 17.5 (1.9) 17.6 (1.3) 10.5 (1.8) 14.8 (2.3) 15.7 (1.9)
2003–2004 13.9 (1.6) 18.8 (1.3) 17.4 (1.7) 15.1 (1.7) 19.9 (2.0) 18.2 (1.9) 12.7 (2.5) 17.6(1.3) 16.4 (2.3)
2005–2006 10.7 (1.1) 15.1 (2.1) 17.8 (1.8) 10.4 (1.7) 16.2 (2.5) 18.2 (2.4) 11.0 (1.2) 14.1 (2.4) 17.3 (2.1)
2007–2008 10.1 (1.2) 19.6 (1.2) 18.1 (1.7) 9.3 (1.5) 21.2 (1.6) 19.3 (2.2) 10.9 (2.1) 18.0 (2.1) 16.8 (2.0)
2009–2010 12.1 (1.2) 18.0 (0.8) 18.4 (1.3) 14.4 (1.8) 20.1 (1.0) 19.6 (2.3) 9.6 (1.7) 15.7 (1.0) 17.1 (1.3)
2011–2012 8.4 (1.3) 17.7 (1.6) 20.5 (1.7) 9.5 (1.9) 16.4 (1.8) 20.3 (2.4) *7.2 (2.1) 19.1 (1.7) 20.7 (2.0)
2013–2014 9.4 (1.3) 17.4 (1.7) 20.6 (2.1) 8.8 (2.0) 18.8 (2.4) 19.8 (2.2) 10.0 (1.3) 15.9 (1.9) 21.4 (3.2)
2015–2016 13.9 (1.1) 18.4 (1.7) 20.6 (2.0) 14.3 (1.2) 20.4 (2.1) 20.2 (2.6) 13.5 (1.7) 16.3 (1.8) 20.9 (2.0)
2017–2018 13.4 (1.3) 20.3 (1.8) 21.2 (1.3) 14.7 (1.8) 21.3 (2.3) 22.5 (1.3) 12.2 (1.4) 19.2 (2.1) 19.9 (2.2)

– – – Data not available. National Health Examination Surveys (NHES) 1963–1965 did not include children aged 2–5 and 12–19. NHES 1966–1970 did not include children aged 2–5 and 6–11.
* Estimate has a confidence interval width between 5 and 30 and a relative confidence interval width greater than 130%, and does not meet National Center for Health Statistics standards of reliability; see Series Report 2, Number 175pdf icon.
1Excludes pregnant females starting with 1971–1974. Pregnancy status not available for 1963–1965 and 1966–1970.
2Data are for adolescents aged 12–17, not 12–19.
NOTE: Obesity is body mass index (BMI) at or above the 95th percentile from the sex-specific BMI-for-age 2000 CDC Growth Charts.
SOURCES: National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Examination Surveys, 1963–1965 and 1966–1970; and National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, 1971–1974, 1976–1980, 1988–1994, and 1999–2018.

Table 3. Prevalence of obesity among children and adolescents aged 2–19 years, by sex and race and Hispanic origin: United States, 1988–1994 through 2017–2018

Survey period
Boys Girls1
Non-Hispanic Hispanic Mexican American Non-Hispanic Hispanic Mexican American
White Black Asian White Black Asian
                                                                                                                                  Percent (standard error)
1988–1994
9.7 (1.1) 10.6 (0.8) – – – – – – 14.8 (1.4) 8.6 (1.1) 14.5 (1.1) – – – – – – 13.8 (1.9)
1999–2000 10.9 (1.5) 16.4 (1.2) – – – – – – 23.5 (1.5) 11.1 (1.8) 21.4 (1.4) – – – – – – 16.8 (1.9)
2001–2002 15.0 (1.5) 15.5 (1.3) – – – – – – 22.0 (1.3) 12.7 (1.9) 19.5 (1.3) – – – – – – 17.0 (1.9)
2003–2004 17.8 (2.2) 16.4 (1.5) – – – – – – 22.0 (1.6) 14.9 (1.9) 23.8 (1.4) – – – – – – 16.1 (2.3)
2005–2006 13.4 (1.9) 18.3 (1.3) – – – – – – 24.3 (2.7) 12.2 (2.2) 24.4 (2.2) – – – – – – 20.6 (1.6)
2007–2008 15.6 (1.9) 17.3 (2.2) – – – 24.5 (1.7) 24.9 (2.3) 14.9 (2.5) 22.8 (2.4) – – – 17.3 (1.7) 16.6 (2.5)
2009–2010 16.1 (1.8) 24.3 (2.8) – – – 23.4 (1.4) 24.0 (1.7) 11.7 (1.1) 24.3 (2.6) – – – 18.9 (1.8) 18.2 (2.5)
2011–2012 12.6 (2.4) 19.9 (1.1) 11.5 (2.1) 24.1 (1.4) 24.2 (1.5) 15.6 (2.1) 20.5 (3.1) *5.6 (2.4) 20.6 (1.5) 21.1 (1.7)
2013–2014 15.9 (2.0) 16.8 (1.9) 12.1 (3.0) 20.6 (2.0) 19.5 (2.1) 14.6 (2.8) 20.9 (1.6) *5.0 (1.0) 22.1 (2.1) 24.2 (2.8)
2015–2016 14.6 (1.6) 19.0 (2.7) 11.7 (2.2) 28.0 (2.8) 29.2 (2.1) 13.5 (1.4) 25.1 (4.2) 10.1 (2.2) 23.6 (1.8) 24.3 (2.3)
2017–2018 17.4 (1.5) 19.4 (2.0) 12.4 (2.4) 28.1 (3.3) 29.2 (3.1) 14.8 (2.4) 29.1 (2.9) *5.1 (1.5) 23.0 (2.6) 24.9 (3.0)

– – – Data not available.
* Estimate has a confidence interval width between 5 and 30 and a relative confidence interval width greater than 130%, and does not meet National Center for Health Statistics standards of reliability; see Series Report 2, Number 175pdf icon.
1Excludes pregnant females.
NOTE: Obesity is body mass index (BMI) at or above the 95th percentile from the sex-specific BMI-for-age 2000 CDC Growth Charts.
SOURCE: National Center for Health Statistics, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Page last reviewed: December 11, 2020
Content source: