Trends in overweight among US adults from 1987 to 1993: a multistate telephone survey

Am J Public Health. 1996 Dec;86(12):1729-35. doi: 10.2105/ajph.86.12.1729.


Objectives: Using data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, this study describes trends in the prevalence of overweight between 1987 and 1993.

Methods: Data were examined from 33 states participating in an ongoing telephone survey of health behaviors of adults (n = 387,704). Self-reported weights and heights were used to calculate sex-specific prevalence estimates of overweight for each year from 1987 to 1993. Time trends were evaluated with the use of linear regression.

Results: Between 1987 and 1993, the age-adjusted prevalence of overweight increased by 0.9% per year for both sexes (from 21.9% to 26.7% among men and from 20.6% to 25.4% among women). The increasing linear trend was observed in all subgroups of the population but was most notable for Black men (1.5% per year) and men living in the Northeast (1.4% per year). Secular changes in smoking and leisure-time physical activity did not entirely account for the increase in overweight.

Conclusions: The prevalence of overweight among American adults increased by 5% between 1987 and 1993. Efforts are needed to explore the causes of this adverse trend and to find effective strategies to prevent obesity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities
  • Male
  • Marital Status
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / ethnology
  • Population Surveillance
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking
  • Telephone
  • United States / epidemiology