After a quarter century of increases, obesity prevalence has not measurably increased in the past few years, but levels are still high – at 34% of U.S. adults aged 20 and older, according to a new study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The report, “Obesity Among Adults in the U.S.: No Significant Change in 2005-2006,” is the latest analysis based on the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, conducted by CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.
Obesity rates have increased during the past 25 years. Among men, there was an increase in obesity prevalence between 1999 and 2006. However, there was no significant change in obesity prevalence between 2003-2004 and 2005-2006 for either men or women.
Obesity is defined as a body mass index of 30 or greater. Body mass index is calculated from a person’s weight and height and provides a reasonable indicator of body fatness and weight categories that may lead to health problems.
The study found more than a third of U.S. adults – more than 72 million people — were obese in 2005-2006. This includes 33.3% of men and 35.3% of women. The figures show no statistically significant change from 2003-2004, when 31.1% of men were obese and 33.2% of women were obese.
Adults aged 40 to 59 had the highest obesity prevalence compared with other age groups. Approximately 40% of men in this age group were obese, compared with 28% of men aged 20-39, and 32% of men aged 60 and older. Among women, 41% of those aged 40-59 were obese compared with 30.5% of women aged 20-39. Women aged 65 and older had obesity prevalence rates comparable to women in the 20 to 39 age group.
There were large race-ethnic disparities in obesity prevalence among women. Approximately 53% of non-Hispanic black women and 51% of Mexican-American women aged 40-59 were obese compared with about 39% of non-Hispanic white women of the same age. Among women 60 and older, 61% of non-Hispanic black women were obese compared to 37% of Mexican-American women and 32% of non-Hispanic white women.
“In view of these alarmingly high rates of obesity in all population groups, CDC has made the prevention of obesity one of its top public health priorities,” said Janet Collins, director of CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, in a press release. “We are actively working in partnership with state and local public health agencies, the nation’s schools, community organizations, businesses, medical systems and faith communities to promote and support healthy eating, physical activity and healthy weight.”