Management of obesity in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 2007-2008

Ann Epidemiol. 2012 May;22(5):349-53. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2012.01.001. Epub 2012 Feb 1.


Purpose: The prevalence of obesity has been increasing in the United States. We set out to investigate the use of pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic therapy for the treatment of obesity in recent years.

Methods: We included 2630 men and 2702 women who took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2007 to 2008. We analyzed their demographic and anthropometric data and their weight and drug history.

Results: A total of 45.9% of men and 45.0% of women were candidates for treatment (body mass index ≥30 kg/m(2), or ≥27 kg/m(2) with risk factors). Among these participants, 85.1% considered themselves overweight, 90.1% would like to lose weight, 61.9% had dietary changes, 36.5% exercised, 3.7% took nonprescription drugs, and 2.2% took prescription drugs to control weight during the preceding year. During the preceding month, 0.5% and 0.1% of participants were taking phentermine and orlistat, respectively. There were no participants on sibutramine.

Conclusions: Although obesity is highly prevalent, only a small percentage of obese Americans are on anti-obesity medication. The withdrawal of sibutramine would have minimal impact on the general population. There is a need for more lifestyle changes in the majority of obese individuals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Obesity Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cyclobutanes / therapeutic use
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Prevalence
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Weight Loss


  • Anti-Obesity Agents
  • Cyclobutanes
  • sibutramine