and obesity are found worldwide, and the prevalence of these conditions
in the United States ranks high along with other developed nations.
are some frequently asked questions and answers about overweight and
obesity statistics. Data are based on NHANES 2001 to 2004. Unless
otherwise specified, the figures given represent age-adjusted
estimates. Age-adjusted estimates are used in order to account for the
age variations among the groups being compared. Population numbers are
based on estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey.
Q: How many adults age 20 and older are overweight or obese (BMI > 25)?
A: About two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese.
All adults: 133.6 million (66 percent)
Women: 65 million (61.6 percent)
Men: 68.3 million (70.5 percent)
* The statistics presented here are based on the following definitions unless otherwise specified: healthy weight = BMI > 18.5 to < 25; overweight = BMI > 25 to < 30; obesity = BMI > 30; and extreme obesity = BMI > 40.
Q: How many adults age 20 and older are obese (BMI > 30)?
A: Nearly one-third of U.S. adults are obese.
All adults: 63.6 million (31.4 percent)
Women: 35 million (33.2 percent)
Men: 28.6 million (29.5 percent)
Q: How many adults age 20 and older are at a healthy weight (BMI > 18.5 through 24.9)?
A: Less than one-third of U.S. adults are at a healthy weight.
All adults: 65.4 million (32.3 percent)
Women: 38.1 million (36.1 percent)
Men: 27.4 million (28.3 percent)
Q: How has the prevalence of overweight and obesity in adults changed over the years?
The prevalence has steadily increased over the years among both
genders, all ages, all racial and ethnic groups, all educational
levels, and all smoking levels. From 1960 to 2004, the prevalence of
overweight increased from 44.8 to 66 percent in U.S. adults age 20 to
74. The prevalence of obesity during this same time period more than
doubled among adults age 20 to 74 from 13.3 to 32.1 percent, with most
of this rise occurring since 1980.
Q: What is the prevalence of overweight or obesity in minorities?
A: Among women, the age-adjusted prevalence of overweight or obesity (BMI >
25) in racial and ethnic minorities is higher among non-Hispanic Black
and Mexican-American women than among non-Hispanic White women.
Among men, there is little difference in prevalence among these three
groups . Sufficient data for other racial and ethnic minorities has
not yet been collected.
Non-Hispanic Black Women: 79.6 percent
Mexican-American Women: 73 percent
Non-Hispanic White Women: 57.6 percent
Non-Hispanic Black Men: 67 percent
Mexican-American Men: 74.6 percent
Non-Hispanic White Men: 71 percent
(Statistics are for populations age 20 and older.)
using this definition of overweight and obesity provide
ethnicity-specific data only for these three racial and ethnic groups.
Studies using different BMI cutoff points derived from NHANES II data
to define overweight and obesity have reported a high prevalence of
overweight and obesity among Hispanics and American Indians. The
prevalence of overweight and obesity in Asian Americans is lower than
in the population as a whole.
Q: What is the prevalence of overweight and obesity in children and adolescents?
A: While there is no generally accepted definition for obesity as distinct from overweight
in children and adolescents, the prevalence of overweight* is
increasing for children and adolescents in the United States.
Approximately 17.5 percent of children (age 6 to 11) and 17 percent of
adolescents (age 12 to 19) were overweight in 2001 to 2004.
Overweight is defined by the sex- and age-specific 95th percentile
cutoff points of the 2000 CDC growth charts. These revised growth
charts incorporate smoothed BMI percentiles and are based on data from
NHES II (1963 to 1965) and III (1966 to 1970), and NHANES I (1971 to
1974), II (1976 to 1980), and III (1988 to 1994). The CDC BMI growth
charts specifically excluded NHANES III data for children older than 6
Figure 1. Overweight and Obesity, by Age: United States, 1960-2004
Source: CDC/NCHS, Health, United States, 2006
Q: What is the mortality rate associated with obesity?
Most studies show an increase in mortality rates associated with
obesity. Individuals who are obese have a 10- to 50-percent increased
risk of death from all causes, compared with healthy weight individuals
(BMI 18.5 to 24.9). Most of the increased risk is due to cardiovascular
causes. Obesity is associated with about 112,000 excess deaths per
year in the U.S. population relative to healthy weight individuals.