Obesity Rates Stay Stable

Obesity rates among adults same as previous years in new CDC data

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) From the White House to the classroom to the kitchen table, a lot of focus has been devoted to the troubling issue of obesity in the United States. Though awareness of the issue might be increasing, is the problem being solved?

New data suggests that while the obesity trend hasn't gotten worse, it hasn't gotten better either.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 34.9 percent of American adults were obese during 2011 to 2012 — an amount that is greater than one-third of the adult population and similar to obesity rates seen during 2009 to 2010.

"Take the stairs instead of the elevator."

The CDC's National Center for Health Statistics released the new report, which was conducted by Cynthia L. Ogden, PhD, and colleagues.

Dr. Ogden and team analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) for the years 2011 to 2012 and 2009 to 2010. These national surveys consisted of interviews and physical exams with participants to calculate body mass index (BMI).

BMI is a measure of height divided by weight. A BMI of 30 or greater is considered obese.

The authors of this report found that between 2009-2010 and 2011-2012, no significant change in obesity prevalence was seen, with rates stable at around 34.9 percent, or more than one-third of the US adult population. This amount accounts for more than 78 million obese American adults.

In the most recent data (2011 to 2012), obesity was more prevalent in middle-aged adults between the ages of 40 and 59 (39.5 percent) than it was in younger adults between the ages of 20 and 39 (30.3 percent) or older adults above the age of 60 (35.4 percent).

During 2011 to 2012 , the rate of obesity among the non-Hispanic black population was estimated at 47.8 percent. Among the Hispanic population, the obesity rate was 42.5 percent. Among the non-Hispanic white population, the rate was 32.6 percent, and among the non-Hispanic Asian population, the rate was 10.8 percent.

"Disparities in obesity prevalence show the highest prevalence among non-Hispanic black and Hispanic adults," Dr. Ogden and team reported. "Nonetheless, the burden of obesity in terms of number of obese adults shows that the majority of obese adults are non-Hispanic white."

Of the estimated 78 million obese adults, 50.2 million were non-Hispanic white, 13.4 million were Hispanic, 12.2 million were black, and 1.2 million were non-Hispanic Asian.

The authors of this report noted that the prevalence of obesity currently remains higher than the US Department of Health and Human Service's goal of 30.5 percent by the year 2020.

In an interview with dailyRx News, Govind Koka, DO, family medicine physician at Advanced Urgent Care in Las Vegas, said these rates are a concern and need to be addressed with individual patients. 

"Since being overweight or obese can negatively impact overall health, addressing these conditions with patients is primary, through one-on-one counseling, in schools and through sponsored outreach," said Dr. Koka.

"Encouraging healthy eating - little or no junk food, increased consumption of fresh vegetables and fruits - combined with encouraging regular, appropriate exercise, has been shown to significantly reduce overweight-obesity related health risks," Dr. Koka told dailyRx. 

The report appears on the CDC website.

No conflicts of interests were declared. 

Review Date: 
October 17, 2013
Last Updated:
October 19, 2013