How common is obesity?

Most health professionals say that obesity is an epidemic. In the United States, 30% of the population are obese, and 65% are overweight or obese. Obesity in the adult population has doubled since 1980.1

Certain groups are affected more than others:2

  • Among women, overweight and obesity are more prevalent in racial and ethnic minorities than in non-Hispanic white women.
  • Among men, overweight and obesity are more prevalent in Mexican Americans than in non-Hispanic whites or blacks.
  • More non-Hispanic black women are overweight or obese than non-Hispanic black men.
  • More non-Hispanic white men are overweight or obese than non-Hispanic white women.
  • Women of lower socioeconomic status are approximately 50% more likely to be obese than those of higher socioeconomic status.

Citations

  1. Flegal MK, et al. (2002). Prevalence and trends in obesity among U.S. adults, 1999–2000. JAMA, 288(14): 1723–1727.
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2001). The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Available online: http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/topics/obesity.

Last Updated: April 16, 2009

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