More than one-third of U.S. adults are obese, and obesity is more common in middle-age adults, according to data released by the CDC.
Of U.S. adults ages 20 and older, 34.9% are obese, according to a data brief from the National Center for Health Statistics. This equates to more than 78 million adults, no significant change from 2009-10. These estimates were calculated based on heights and weights using information from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys for 2011-12 and 2009-10.
Preventing obesity has been named a public health priority, in part because of the number of related health risks. According to past reports, the overall obesity rate for U.S. adults has remained basically unchanged since 2003-04. In 2011-12, newly available data made it possible to estimate the national prevalence of obesity among non-Hispanic Asian adults for the first time.
Obesity was more prevalent in adults ages 40-59 than in adults ages 20-39 or 60 and older, according to the brief. For 2011-12, there was no overall difference in prevalence of obesity between men and women. However, among non-Hispanic black adults, 56.6% of women were obese compared with 37.1% of men, according to the analysis.
Racial and ethnic disparities in obesity prevalence persist. In 2011-12, non-Hispanic Asian adults had a lower prevalence of obesity (10.8%) than non-Hispanic white (32.6%), Hispanic (42.5%) and non-Hispanic black adults (47.8%), according to the brief. However, the authors note at a given body mass index level, body fat can vary by age, sex and racial and ethnic group. Past research has shown Asian adults may have more body fat than white adults at the same BMI level.
Among women, obesity was more common for non-Hispanic black women (56.6%) than for Hispanic (44.4%), non-Hispanic white (32.8%) and non-Hispanic Asian women (11.4%). For men, Hispanics had the highest prevalence of obesity (40.1%) when compared with non-Hispanic black (37.1%), non-Hispanic white (32.4%) and non-Hispanic Asian men (10.0%).
CDC data brief: www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db131.htm