Obesity Still a Major Problem, New Data Show

For Release: Wednesday, October 6, 2004

Contact: NCHS Press Office (301)458-4800

E-mail: paoquery@cdc.gov

Prevalence of Overweight and Obesity Among Adults: United States, 1999-2002

Prevalence of Overweight and Obesity Among Children and Adolescents: United States, 1999-2002

The latest data from the 1999-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey show that nearly one-third of all adults are classified as obese, according to an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The data show that 30 percent of adults 20 years of age and over – over 60 million people — had a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater – in 1999-2002 compared with 23 percent in 1994, according to the data collected and analyzed by the National Center for Health Statistics, part of HHS’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Meanwhile, the percent of children who are overweight (defined as BMI-for-age at or above the 95th percentile of the CDC Growth Charts) continues to increase. Among children and teens ages 6-19, 16 percent (over 9 million) are overweight according to the 1999-2002 data, or triple what the proportion was in 1980.

The 1999-2002 findings show more adult women are obese (33 percent) than men (28 percent), with the problem greatest among non-Hispanic black women (49 percent) compared with Mexican-American women (38 percent) and non-Hispanic white women (31 percent). There was very little difference in obesity levels among men based on race/ethnicity.

The 1999-2002 data on children show:

  • Non-Hispanic black (21 percent) and Mexican-American adolescents (23 percent) ages 12-19 were more likely to be overweight than non-Hispanic white adolescents (14 percent).
  • Mexican-American children ages 6-11 were more likely to be overweight (22 percent) than non-Hispanic black children (20 percent) and non-Hispanic white children (14 percent).
  • In addition to the 16 percent of children and teens ages 6 to 19 who were overweight in 1999-2002, another 15 percent were considered at risk of becoming overweight (a BMI-for-age between the 85th and 95th percentiles).

More information on the study is available on the CDC/NCHS Web site.