A study from the National Center for Health Statistics revealed that the number of obese American adults is now higher than the number of those who are overweight. While the prevalence of obesity has more than doubled since 1980, the number of those who are overweight has remained stable over the same time period.
Both are terms used to describe levels of bodyweight that are generally considered higher than what is healthy, with obese higher. Overweight is defined as those with a BMI (body mass index) between 25 and 29.9, which per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention corresponds to approximately 169 to 202 pounds for somebody who is 5-foot-9. Obese is a BMI higher than 30 or, for the same 5-9 person weighing more than 203 pounds.
The National Center for Health Statistics’ numbers show that more than 34 percent of Americans are now obese, compared to 32.7 percent who are overweight. It said about 6 percent are "extremely" obese.
More than a third of adults, or over 72 million people, were obese in 2005-2006, according to the NCHS report. The figures come from the 2005-2006 survey and are the most current available.
The current numbers are based on a survey of 4,356 adults over the age of 20 who take part in a regular government survey of health, said the NCHS, which is part of the CDC.
In the 1988-1994 surveys, 33 percent of Americans were overweight, 22.9 percent were obese and 2.9 percent were morbidly obese. The numbers have edged up steadily since.