Obesity rates remain high among children and adults

Obesity rates are still high in the U.S., with close to one-third of adults and nearly 17 percent of children and teens obese in 2011–2012, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The data, which looked at obesity rates from 2003–2004 through 2011–2012, was published in the Feb. 26 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study concluded that, overall, “there have been no significant changes in obesity prevalence in youth or adults between 2003–2004 and 2011–2012.”

About the study

Researchers used data collected between 2011 and 2012 from 9,120 people—including 584 infants and toddlers—as part of CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The information from that survey was compared to four past surveys stretching back to 2003.

People’s weight and height were used to calculate their body mass index (BMI), a measure of body fat.

The researchers found that in 2011–2012:

8.4 percent of children ages 2 to 5 were obese, compared to 13.9 percent in 2003–2004. This was the most significant decline seen in all age groups.
16.9 percent of young people ages 2 to 19 were obese, compared to 17.1 percent in 2003–2004.
34.9 percent of adults 20 and older were obese, compared to 32.2 percent in 2003–2004.
38.1 percent of women age 60 and older were obese, compared to 31.5 percent in 2003–2004.

The take-home message

Children and adolescents who are obese are likely to be obese as adults, according to CDC. This puts them at increased risk for adult health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, osteoarthritis and several types of cancer.

Learn how to control your weight over the long term at the Weight management health topic center.

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