Obesity trend may be thinning out

March 2, 2010

The prevalence of obesity in the United States remains high, exceeding 30% in most sex and age groups. However, the prevalence may not be continuing at as high a level as in earlier periods, especially in women and perhaps in men.

The prevalence of obesity in the United States remains high, exceeding 30% in most sex and age groups. However, the prevalence may not be continuing at as high a level as in earlier periods, especially in women and perhaps in men.

To gain a current perspective on the obesity epidemic, Flegal and coworkers reviewed obesity trends from 1999 to 2008 and examined current weight data for 2007-2008 obtained as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Overweight was defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 25 to 29.9 kg/m2 and obesity as 30 kg/m2 or higher.

The latest data show the age-adjusted prevalence of obesity to be 33.8% overall, 31.6% for men, and 35.5% for women. The chances of being obese were greatest for persons older than 40 years. From 1999 to 2008, obesity showed no significant increase among women and a linear progression among men. The increase in BMI was only slightly higher for 2007-2008 than over the 10-year period.

The authors noted that population-based strategies that improve social and physical environmental contexts for healthful eating and physical activity may complement clinical prevention strategies and treatment programs for persons who already are obese.