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Information for Health Professionals

Overweight and obesity is a serious health problem that affects millions of Americans. These conditions substantially increase the risk of morbidity from hypertension; dyslipidemia; type 2 diabetes; coronary heart disease; stroke; gallbladder disease; osteoarthritis; sleep apnea and respiratory problems; and endometrial, breast, prostate, and colon cancers. Higher body weights also are associated with increases in all-cause mortality.


According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data from 2007–08, the overall prevalence of overweight and obesity for adults was 68 percent (approximately 72 percent among men and 64 percent among women).

Among women, the overall prevalence of obesity was 35.5 percent.

Among men, the overall prevalence of obesity was 32.2 percent.

Children and Teens

Children have become heavier as well. In the past 30 years, the prevalence of childhood obesity has more than doubled among children ages 2-5, has tripled among youth ages 6-11, and has more than tripled among adolescents ages 12-19. However, recent data suggest that the rate of overweight in children did not increase significantly between 1999 and 2008, except in the heaviest boys (BMI for age greater than or equal to the 97th percentile).

This rate, though, remains alarmingly high. Statistics show about 17 percent of American children ages 2 to 19, or 1 in 6, are obese. Further, the latest data continue to suggest that overweight and obesity are having a greater effect on minorities, including blacks and Hispanics.


Healthy Weight Tip

NHLBI publications and tools can help busy clinicians easily identify, assess, and treat overweight and obese patients.

obesity happens one pound at a time.  so does preventing it.

Need tools to help effectively manage your overweight and obese adult patients?

cover image of The Practical GuideThe Practical Guide: Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults is based on the Clinical Guidelines on the Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults: Evidence Report developed by the NHLBI Expert Panel.

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