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February 27, 2020

American obesity rates have grown significantly in the last two decades

More than 40 percent of adults are considered obese, CDC study finds

Wellness Obesity
Obesity Ehimetalor Unuabona/

More than 40% of Americans are obese and nearly 10% are severely obese, according to a CDC study.

The percentage of Americans who are obese has risen sharply in the last two decades according to a study released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

About 42% of Americans were considered obese between 2017 and 2018 – a significant increase from the 30.5% who were obese back in 1999-2000, according to the studyAnyone with a body mass index of 30 or higher was considered obese. 

About 45% of adults between ages 40-59 were obese – the highest percentage of any age group. Nearly 43% of adults age 60 or older were obese, as were 40% of adults between ages 20-39. Similar figures were observed between both men and women.

Obesity prevalence rates were similar among white men (44.7%), black men (41%) Hispanic men (45.7%). Only 17.5% of Asian men were considered obese.

About 57% of black women were considered obese, as were 43.7% of Hispanic women and 39.8% of white women. Obesity among Asian women was only 17.2%.

Researchers also found that the number of percentage of Americans with severe obesity increased from 4.7% to 9.2% over the span of the study. Severe obesity, defined as having a BMI of at least 40, was higher among women than men. 

Adults aged 40-59 had the highest-prevalence of severe obesity, at 11.5%. About 9% of adults aged 20-39 and 5.8% of adults aged 60 and up were severely obese. 

Among adults, the prevalence of both obesity and severe obesity was the highest among black adults, at 49.6%. The lowest rate was among Asian adults, at 17.4 percent.

The study analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, which are used to monitor the health and nutritional status of U.S. citizens. Participants were subjected to physical exams and interviews. 

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