2014 - Research

Prevalence of Childhood and Adult Obesity in the United States

More than one-third of adults and 17% of youth in the United States are obese, although the prevalence remained stable between 2003-2004 and 2009-2010.

  • The study’s objective was to provide the most recent national estimates of childhood obesity, analyze trends in childhood obesity between 2003 and 2012, and provide detailed obesity trend analyses among adults.
  • Weight and height or recumbent length were measured in 9120 participants in the 2011-2012 nationally representative National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
  • In 2011-2012, 8.1% (95% CI, 5.8%-11.1%) of infants and toddlers had high weight for recumbent length, and 16.9% (95% CI, 14.9%-19.2%) of 2- to 19-year-olds and 34.9% (95% CI, 32.0%-37.9%) of adults (age-adjusted) aged 20 years or older were obese.
  • Overall, there was no significant change from 2003-2004 through 2011-2012 in high weight for recumbent length among infants and toddlers, obesity in 2- to 19-year-olds, or obesity in adults. Tests for an interaction between survey period and age found an interaction in children (P = .03) and women (P = .02).
  • There was a significant decrease in obesity among 2- to 5-year-old children (from 13.9% to 8.4%; P = .03) and a significant increase in obesity among women aged 60 years and older (from 31.5% to 38.1%; P = .006).
  • Overall, there have been no significant changes in obesity prevalence in youth or adults between 2003-2004 and 2011-2012. Obesity prevalence remains high and thus it is important to continue surveillance.

Cynthia L. Ogden, PhD1; Margaret D. Carroll, MSPH1; Brian K. Kit, MD, MPH1,2; Katherine M. Flegal, PhD1. (2014). Prevalence of Childhood and Adult Obesity in the United States, 2011-2012. JAMA,, 311(8), 806-814. doi: 10.1001/jama:.2014.732.

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Authored by: 
Cynthia L. Ogden
PhD1; Margaret D. Carroll
MSPH1; Brian K. Kit
MD
MPH1
2; Katherine M. Flegal
PhD1