Yesterday, an issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association was published. In the issue, Flegal and Ogden report updated findings regarding the prevalence of obesity in the United States. According to 2013-2014 data taken from 5,455 adults who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 35% of men were obese and 5.5% were morbidly obese; 40.4% of women were obese and 9.9% were morbidly obese. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), obesity exists if an individual’s BMI is greater than 30 and morbid obesity exists if an individual’s BMI is greater than 40.
According to the updated report, the prevalence of obesity and morbid obesity among men remains the same. Among women, the prevalence experienced a slight increase.
Ogden said that she and the other researchers examined race, ethnicity, education level, and smoking practices to identify if any of these factors could explain the trends. None did.
In a separate survey, researchers found that data for children are similar to data for adult women. Based on 7,017 youth aged 2 to 19 in 2011-2014, the prevalence of obesity was 17% and morbid obesity was 5.8%. The data differs by age group. Among children aged 2 to 5, obesity rates have decreased since 2003-2004. Among 6- to 11- year olds, rates have stabilized since 2007-2008. Among adolescents, though, rates have steadily increased since 1988.
Similar to the adult study, the researchers considered other variables, like sex, race, ethnicity, and education level of the head of the home, to see if these could explain the trends. But, again, none of the variables provided answers, Ogden said.