An initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

New Adult Obesity Rate Data


March 9th, 2020


According to the newest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 42.4 percent of adults in the United States had obesity in 2017-18.

Disparities persist across race and ethnicity. The obesity rate was significantly higher among Black adults (49.6%) than among white, Hispanic, or Asian adults. The rate among Asian adults (17.4%) was significantly lower than for any other racial or ethnic group. There was no statistically significant difference in the obesity rate among men and women.

The data come from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), conducted every two years by the National Center for Health Statistics. The survey includes interviews conducted in participants’ homes covering a wide range of health topics. The obesity rate data are based on height and weight measurements among participants, making NHANES one of the most accurate sources of obesity rate data in the country. Updated data on children and teenagers ages 2 to 19 are expected later this year.

Adult obesity rates have risen statistically significantly since 1999-2000. However, the newest data are not statistically significantly different from the 2015-16 data.

Obesity puts both children and adults at greater risk for diseases such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain forms of cancer. Preventing obesity in childhood can reduce the overall risk for these types of diseases and set young people on a healthier path for the future.

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