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News

No real change in obesity prevalence over the past decade in the United States

This week's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association examines the prevalence of childhood and adult obesity in the USA.

News image

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.

Dr Cynthia Ogden and colleagues provided 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.

The team measured weight and height or recumbent length 9120 participants in the 2011-2012 nationally representative National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

The research team defined high weight for recumbent length infants and toddlers from birth to 2 years as weight for length at or above the 95th percentile of the sex-specific Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) growth charts.

In children and adolescents aged 2 to 19 years, obesity was defined as a body mass index (BMI) at or above the 95th percentile of the sex-specific CDC BMI-for-age growth charts.

In adults, obesity was defined as a BMI greater than or equal to 30.

8% of infants and toddlers had high weight for recumbent length
Journal of the American Medical Association

The research team conducted analyses of trends in high weight for recumbent length or obesity prevalence overall and separately by age across 5 periods.

In 2011-2012, the team observed that 8% of infants and toddlers had high weight for recumbent length, and 17% of 2- to 19-year-olds, and 35% of adults aged 20 years or older were obese.

Overall, the researchers observed 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 and women.

The researchers found a significant decrease in obesity among 2- to 5-year-old children, and a significant increase in obesity among women aged 60 years and older.

Dr concludes, "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."

JAMA 2014; 311(8): 806-814 
28 February 2014

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