CDC Study: Nearly 40% of American adults have obesity problem

Nearly 40% of adults and 20% of children have obesity in the United States, according to a new report released by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

The crude prevalence of obesity among U.S. adults and children in 2015–2016 was 39.8% and 18.5%, respectively, and the rate has grown steadily since 1999–2000, according to an analysis of nine 2-year cycles of NHANES data. Researchers found overall obesity prevalence to be higher among adults aged 40 to 59 years (42.8%) vs. those aged 20 to 39 years (35.7%), whereas the prevalence of obesity was higher among children and adolescents aged 12 to 19 years (20.6%) vs. those aged 6 to 11 years (18.4%) or 2 to 5 years (13.9%).

“The prevalence of obesity in the United States remains higher than the Healthy People 2020 goals of 14.5% among youth and 30.5% among adults,” Craig M. Hales, MD, MPH, a medical epidemiologist at the CDC, and colleagues wrote in the NCHS Data Brief.

Researchers also observed race and sex differences in obesity trends. Among black, Asian and Hispanic adults, women had a higher prevalence of obesity vs. men, the researchers wrote; however, this trend did not persist among white adults. Obesity prevalence in 2015–2016 was 54.8%, 50.6%, 38% and 14.8% for black, Hispanic, white and Asian women, respectively. For men, obesity prevalence rates were 43.1%, 37.9%, 36.9% and 10.1% for Hispanic, white, black and Asian men, respectively.

There were no between-sex differences in obesity prevalence observed among young, according to the researchers. Overall, black and Hispanic adults and youth had a higher prevalence of obesity (22% and 25.8%, respectively) vs. white and Asian youth (14.1% and 11%, respectively).