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] > or =95th percentile of the sex-specific BMI-for-age growth chart) among children and prevalence of overweight (BMI, 25.0-29.9), obesity (BMI > or =30.0), and extreme obesity (BMI > or =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.