Prevalence of Overweight and Obesity Among US Children, Adolescents, and Adults, 1999–2002

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Abstract

Context

The prevalence of overweight and obesity has increased markedly in the last 2 decades in the United States.

Objective

To update the US prevalence estimates of overweight in children and obesity in adults, using the most recent national data of height and weight measurements.

Design, Setting, and Participants

As part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a complex multistage probability sample of the US noninstitutionalized civilian population, both height and weight measurements were obtained from 4115 adults and 4018 children in 1999–2000 and from 4390 adults and 4258 children in 2001–2002.

Main Outcome Measure

Prevalence of overweight (body mass index [BMI] ≥95th percentile of the sex-specific BMI-for-age growth chart) among children and prevalence of overweight (BMI, 25.0–29.9), obesity (BMI ≥30.0), and extreme obesity (BMI ≥40.0) among adults by sex, age, and racial/ethnic group.

Results

Between 1999–2000 and 2001–2002, there were no significant changes among adults in the prevalence of overweight or obesity (64.5% vs 65.7%), obesity (30.5% vs 30.6%), or extreme obesity (4.7% vs 5.1%), or among children aged 6 through 19 years in the prevalence of at risk for overweight or overweight (29.9% vs 31.5%) or overweight (15.0% vs 16.5%). Overall, among adults aged at least 20 years in 1999–2002, 65.1% were overweight or obese, 30.4% were obese, and 4.9% were extremely obese. Among children aged 6 through 19 years in 1999–2002, 31.0% were at risk for overweight or overweight and 16.0% were overweight. The NHANES results indicate continuing disparities by sex and between racial/ethnic groups in the prevalence of overweight and obesity.

Conclusions

There is no indication that the prevalence of obesity among adults and overweight among children is decreasing. The high levels of overweight among children and obesity among adults remain a major public health concern.

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