After a quarter century of increases, U.S. adult obesity rates have not measurably increased in the past few years, but levels are still high, according to a new study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
About 33 percent of adult men and 35 percent of U.S. women -- more than 72 million people -- were obese in 2005/06, according to a comprehensive survey that includes physical examinations.
The new rates were slightly higher than the 31 percent and 33 percent reported in the 2003/04 survey, the CDC said, but the increases were not considered statistically significant.
The report, "Obesity Among Adults in the U.S.: No Significant Change in 2005-06," is the latest analysis based on the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, conducted by CDC's National Center for Health Statistics.
Obesity rates have increased over the past 25 years. Among men, there was an increase in obesity prevalence between 1999 and 2006. However, 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. 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," said Cynthia Ogden, a CDC researcher and lead author of the study, in a statement.
The report found that obesity was most common in adults aged 40 to 59. Approximately 40 percent of men in this age group were obese, compared with 28 percent of men aged 20 to 39, and 32 percent of men aged 60 and older. Among women, 41 percent of those aged 40 to 59 were obese compared with 30.5 percent of women aged 20 to 39. Women aged 65 and older had obesity prevalence rates comparable to women in the 20 to 39 age group.
There were large differences by race for women -- the female obesity rates in the 40- to 59-age group were 39 percent in white women, 51 percent in Mexican-American women and 53 percent in black women. However, there were no racial or ethnic disparities in the male obesity rates, the CDC said.
The report also found that about one-third of obese adults had not been told by a doctor or health care provider that they were overweight, although women heard such an assessment more often than men.
The full report is available at www.cdc.gov/nchs.