Prevalence of obesity by occupation among US workers: the National Health Interview Survey 2004-2011

J Occup Environ Med. 2014 May;56(5):516-28. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000133.


Objective: To estimate the prevalence of obesity and the change of prevalence of obesity between 2004-2007 and 2008-20011 by occupation among US workers in the National Health Interview Survey.

Methods: Self-reported weight and height were collected and used to assess obesity (body mass index ≥ 30 kg/m). Gender-, race/ethnicity-, and occupation-specific prevalence of obesity were calculated.

Results: Prevalence of obesity steadily increased from 2004 through 2008 across gender and race/ethnicity but leveled off from 2008 through 2011. Non-Hispanic black female workers in health care support (49.2%) and transportation/material moving (46.6%) had the highest prevalence of obesity. Prevalence of obesity in relatively low-obesity (white-collar) occupations significantly increased between 2004-2007 and 2008-2011, whereas it did not change significantly in high-obesity (blue-collar) occupations.

Conclusions: Workers in all occupational categories are appropriate targets for health promotion and intervention programs to reduce obesity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Occupations*
  • Prevalence
  • United States / epidemiology