Prevalence and Secular Trends in Obesity Among Chinese Adults, 1991-2011

Am J Prev Med. 2015 Nov;49(5):661-669. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2015.05.005. Epub 2015 Aug 12.


Introduction: The prevalence of obesity in Chinese adults increased from 1991 to 2000; however, recent changes in this trend are unclear. This study aims to estimate the current prevalence of obesity and to assess trends in obesity and BMI distribution in Chinese adults from 1991 through 2011.

Methods: Height and weight measurements of 12,249 Chinese adults from the 2011 China Health and Nutrition Survey were analyzed (in 2013) together with China Health and Nutrition Survey data for 1991-2009. Obesity was defined as BMI≥28.0 kg/m(2) based on the Working Group on Obesity in China criteria.

Results: In the 2011 survey, the age-adjusted mean BMI was 23.8 (95% CI=23.7, 23.9) for men and 23.4 (95% CI=23.2, 23.5) for women. The age-adjusted prevalence of obesity was 11.3% (95% CI=10.8%, 11.9%) overall, 11.8% (95% CI=10.8%, 12.6%) among men, and 11.0% (95% CI=10.3%, 11.8%) among women. Estimates of age-adjusted obesity prevalence among the Chinese population were significantly lower than those of the U.S. population (all p<0.05). Over the 20-year period, the prevalence of obesity increased from 2.88% to 11.8% among men (age-adjusted annual change in OR=1.08, 95% CI=1.07, 1.09, p<0.001) and from 4.55% to 11.0% among women (OR=1.05, 95% CI=1.05, 1.06, p<0.001). Similar significant findings were observed for both men and women based on WHO recommendations.

Conclusions: The prevalence of obesity among both Chinese men and women increased significantly from 1991 through 2011, particularly among men.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Body Mass Index
  • China / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Sex Distribution
  • Waist Circumference
  • Young Adult