Craig M. Hales, M.D., Margaret D. Carroll, M.S.P.H., Cheryl D. Fryar, M.S.P.H., and Cynthia L. Ogden, Ph.D.
Obesity is associated with serious health risks (1). Monitoring obesity prevalence is relevant for public health programs that focus on reducing or preventing obesity. Between 2003–2004 and 2013–2014, there were no significant changes in childhood obesity prevalence, but adults showed an increasing trend (2). This report provides the most recent national estimates from 2015–2016 on obesity prevalence by sex, age, and race and Hispanic origin, and overall estimates from 1999–2000 through 2015–2016. Keyword: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey What was the prevalence of obesity in adults in 2015–2016? The prevalence of obesity among U.S. adults was 39.8% (crude). Overall, the prevalence among adults aged 40–59 (42.8%) was higher than among adults aged 20–39 (35.7%). No significant difference in prevalence was seen between adults aged 60 and over (41.0%) and younger age groups (Figure 1). Figure 1. Prevalence of obesity among adults aged 20 and over, by sex and age: United States, 2015–2016 1 Significantly different from those aged 20–39. NOTES: Estimates for adults aged 20 and over were age adjusted by the direct method to the 2000 U.S. census population using the age groups 20–39, 40–59, and 60 and over. Crude estimates are 39.8% for total, 38.0% for men, and 41.5% for women. Access data table for Figure 1
Among both men and women, the prevalence of obesity followed a similar pattern by age. Men aged 40–59 (40.8%) had a higher prevalence of obesity than men aged 20–39 (34.8%). Women aged 40–59 (44.7%) had a higher prevalence of obesity than women aged 20–39 (36.5%). For both men and women, the prevalence of obesity among those aged 60 and over was not significantly different from the prevalence among those aged 20–39 or 40–59. There was no significant difference in the prevalence of obesity between men and women overall or by age group. Were there differences in the prevalence of obesity among adults by race and Hispanic origin in 2015–2016? The prevalence of obesity was lower among non-Hispanic Asian adults (12.7%) compared with all other race and Hispanic-origin groups. Hispanic (47.0%) and non-Hispanic black (46.8%) adults had a higher prevalence of obesity than non-Hispanic white adults (37.9%). The pattern among women was similar to the pattern in the overall adult population. The prevalence of obesity was 38.0% in non-Hispanic white, 54.8% in non-Hispanic black, 14.8% in non-Hispanic Asian, and 50.6% in Hispanic women. Among men, the prevalence of obesity was lower in non-Hispanic Asian adults (10.1%) compared with non-Hispanic white (37.9%), non-Hispanic black (36.9%), and Hispanic (43.1%) men. Non-Hispanic black men had a lower prevalence of obesity than Hispanic men, but there was no significant difference between non-Hispanic black and non-Hispanic white men (Figure 2).
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