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Obese Outnumber the Overweight in the US

Obese Outnumber the Overweight in the US

  • More than 50% of Americans age ≥25 years are overweight or obese: Men – 75%; women – 66% , vs data from 1988-1994: Men – 63%; women – 55%.
  • Weight groups in the study were defined by body mass index: underweight (< 18.5 kg/m2), normal weight (18.5-24.9), overweight (25.0-29.9), obesity class 1 (30.0-34.9), obesity class 2 (35.0-39.9), and obesity class 3 (≥ 40).
  • African-Americans have the highest rates of obesity, with 39 percent of black men and 57 percent of black women considered obese; 17 percent of black women are extremely obese, meaning their body mass index is over 40, as are 7 percent of black men.
  • Obesity in Women White 34%; Black 57%; >17% of women, BMI ≥40; compared with similar data from 1988-1994: “The greatest increase in the proportion of patients in the obesity class 3 category (BMI ≥40) was among non-Hispanic black women.”
  • Weight Status Distribution for Adults ≥ 25 Yrs, 2007-2012 Table source, here.
  • “Our estimates are very close to CDC’s estimates [of overweight and obesity], and there is clearly not a trend of decline on the prevalence of overweight and obesity in the United States…Thus, we strengthen the case for implementing policies and practices that span multiple sections and [are] designed to combat overweight and obesity. This will need a political will to support multi-level approaches through individual, health professional, community, environment and policy engagement to address this epidemic as a whole.”

A new study published online on June 22 in JAMA Internal Medicine found that more than half the US population exceeds what is considered a healthy weight. In fact those who qualify as obese (BMI ≥30.0 now outnumber persons categorized as overweight (BMI, 25.0 to 29.9 ).

The researchers, from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, put the number of overweight men at >36 million and women ~29 million. Another 32 million men and 36 million women are obese, the researchers found.

The report used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey gathered between 2007 and 2012, involving more than 15,000 men and women age 25 and older.

The slides above are a snapshot of the results which also highlight ethnic differences in the ongoing super-sizing of America.




This work was funded by the Washington University School of Medicine Transdisciplinary Research on Energetics and Cancer Center, which is funded by the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Siteman Cancer Center, grant number U54 CA155496; The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital, and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.


Yang L, Colditz GA. Prevalence of Overweight and Obesity in the United States, 2007-2012 [research letter]. JAMA Intern Med. Published online June 22, 2015. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.2405


we will continue to see overweight/obese adults as long as mothers continue to overfeed babies trying to compete with the growth percentile charts


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