1. The overall prevalence of obesity in the United States did not change between 2003 and 2012.
2. There was a significant decrease in the rate of obesity among children aged 2-5 years and a significant increase in the prevalence of obesity among adults over 60 years of age between 2003 and 2012.
Evidence Rating Level: 1 (Excellent)
Study Rundown: Obesity is associated with negative health outcomes and is one of the most prioritized public health concerns in the United States. This study used data from 9,120 individuals from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to analyze the trends in childhood and adult obesity between 2003 and 2012 in the United States. In the 2011-2012 NHANES survey, the prevalence of high weight for length in children from 0-2 years old was 8.1 (95% CI 5.8%-11.1%), and the prevalence of obesity among youth (2-19 years of age) and adults (over 20 years of age) was 16.9% (95% CI 14.9%-19.2%) and 34.9% (95% CI 32.0%-37.9%), respectively. Overall, obesity rates among children and adults were not different between 2003 and 2012. Strengths of this study are the large number of individuals included in the analysis, the inclusion of data from a population that is diverse, and the use of height and weight data as measured during a physical examination. Furthermore, this study demonstrates that we have successfully halted the progression of obesity in the United States and perhaps it will provide the motivation to our population to eventually see the prevalence begin to decrease.
Click to read the study in JAMA
Relevant Reading: Prevalence of overweight and obesity in the United States, 1999-2004
In-Depth [prospective cohort]: This study analyzed data from 9,120 individuals from NHANES between 2003 and 2012 in the United States. The prevalence of high weight for length in children from 0-2 years old was 8.1 (95% CI 5.8%-11.1%) in the 2011-2012 survey. Among youth aged 2-19, 16.9% (95% CI 14.9%-19.2%) were obese, and among adults over 20 years of age, 34.9% (95% CI 32.0%-37.9%) were obese in the 2011-2012 survey. In comparing the 2003-2004 data to the 2011-2012 data, there was no difference in the rates of high weight for length among infants and toddlers from 0-2 years of age (p=0.72). In children and adolescents aged 2-19, there was no overall difference in prevalence of obesity (p=0.78), but there was a significantly lower prevalence of obesity among children aged 2-5 years (p=0.03). In the total population of adults, there was no overall change in obesity prevalence (p=0.09), but in the population of people 60 and over, there was a significant increase in obesity prevalence (p=0.004).
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