Prevalence of obesity and severe obesity in US children, 1999-2014

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2016 May;24(5):1116-23. doi: 10.1002/oby.21497.


Objective: Provide the most recent data on the prevalence of obesity and severe obesity among United States children and adolescents aged 2 to 19 years.

Methods: The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999-2014, was used. Weight status was defined using measured height and weight and standard definitions as follows: overweight as ≥85th percentile for age- and sex-specific BMI; class I obesity as ≥95th percentile; class II obesity as ≥120 of the 95th percentile, or BMI ≥35; and class III obesity as ≥140% of the 95th percentile, or BMI ≥40. This study reports the prevalence of obesity by 2-year National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey cycle and Wald tests comparing the 2011-2012 cycle with the 2013-2014 cycle, as well as the linear trend from 1999 to 2014. Multivariable logistic regression models estimated odds ratios for differences by each 2-year cycle.

Results: In 2013-2014, 17.4% of children met criteria for class I obesity, including 6.3% for class II and 2.4% for class III, none statistically different than 2011-2012. A clear, statistically significant increase in all classes of obesity continued from 1999 through 2014.

Conclusions: There is no evidence of a decline in obesity prevalence in any age group, despite substantial clinical and policy efforts targeting the issue.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity, Morbid / epidemiology*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Pediatric Obesity / epidemiology*
  • United States / epidemiology