HYATTSVILLE, MD. — The prevalence of obesity in the United States has not measurably increased in the past few years, but levels remain high, according to a new study from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Obesity rates have increased during the past 25 years, and currently 34% of U.S. adults over 20 are obese. Men showed an increase in the prevalence of obesity between 1999 and 2006, but there was no significant change in obesity prevalence between 2003-04 and 2005-06 for either men or women.
"Since 1999, there appears to have been a leveling off in obesity among women, but the trend is less clear among men," said Cynthia Ogden, a C.D.C. researcher and lead author of the study. "We do know, however, that the gap between men and women has narrowed in recent years, with men catching up to the higher rates among women."
The new report, "Obesity among adults in the United States — no change since 2003-2004," was based on national health and nutrition examination surveys and was conducted by the C.D.C.’s National Center for Health Statistics.
The study also found more than 72 million people or more than one-third of adults, 33.3% of men and 35.3% of men, were obese in 2005-06. There was no statistically significant change in these numbers from 2003-04.
In addition, adults 40 to 59 had the highest obesity prevalence compared with other age groups. Forty per cent of men in this age group were obese, and in comparison 28% of men 20 to 39 were obese and 32% of men over 60 were obese. Forty-one per cent of women 40 to 59 were obese compared with 30.5% of women 20 to 39 and similar rates for women over 65.
Other study findings included large race-ethnic disparities in obesity prevalence among women. About 53% of non-Hispanic black women and 51% of Mexican-American women 40 to 59 were obese compared with about 39% of non-Hispanic white women. In addition, 61% of non-Hispanic black women over 60 were obese compared with 37% of Mexican-American women and 32% of non-Hispanic white women.
"In view of these alarmingly high rates of obesity in all population groups, C.D.C. has made the prevention of obesity one of its top public health priorities," said Janet Collins, director of the C.D.C.’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. "We are actively working in partnership with state and local health agencies, the nation’s schools, community organizations, businesses, medical systems and faith communities to promote and support healthy eating, physical activity and healthy weight."