Living with Obesity

Did you know that Tennessee has the third largest overweight/obese population in the U.S.?

What are overweight and obesity?
    • Overweight: Overweight specifically refers to an excessive amount of body weight that may come from  
      muscles, bone, adipose (fat) tissue, and water.
    • Obesity: Obesity specifically refers to an excessive amount of adipose tissue.
      Causes of Overweight and Obesity
    • Essentially, overweight and obesity result from energy imbalance. The body needs a certain amount of       
      energy (calories) from food to sustain basic life functions. Body weight is maintained when calories eaten 
      equals the number of calories the body expends, or “burns.” When more calories are consumed than 
      burned, energy balance is tipped toward weight gain, overweight, and obesity. Genetic, environmental, 
      behavioral, and socioeconomic factors can all lead to overweight and obesity.

Overweight and Obesity Prevalence Estimates*
    Q: How many adults age 20 and older are overweight or obese (Body Mass Index, or BMI, > 25)?
    • A: Over two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese.[4]
    • All adults: 68 percent
      Women: 64.1 percent
      Men: 72.3 percent

    Q: How many adults age 20 and older are obese (BMI > 30)? 
    • A: Over one-third of U.S. adults are obese.[4]
    • All adults: 33.8 percent
      Women: 35.5 percent
      Men: 32.2 percent

    Q: How many adults age 20 and older are extremely obese (BMI > 40)?
    • A: A small percentage of U.S. adults are extremely obese.[4]
    • All adults: 5.7 percent

    Q: How many adults age 20 and older are at a healthy weight (BMI > 18.5 to < 25)?
    • A: Less than one-third of U.S. adults are at a healthy weight.[5] 
    • All adults: 31.6 percent
      Women: 36.5 percent
      Men: 26.6 percent

    Q: How has the prevalence of overweight and obesity in adults changed over the years?
    • A: The prevalence has steadily increased among both genders, all ages, all racial/ethnic groups, all 
      educational levels, and all smoking levels.[6] From 1960–2 to 2005–6, the prevalence of obesity increased 
      from 13.4 to 35.1 percent in U.S. adults age 20 to 74. Since 2004, while the prevalence of overweight is still 
      high among men and women, there are no significant differences in prevalence rates documented from 2003 
      to 2004, 2005 to 2006, and 2007 to 2008. In fact, among women, there has been no change in obesity 
      prevalence between 1999 and 2008.

    Q: What is the prevalence of obesity among non-Hispanic Black, Hispanic, and non-Hispanic White
         racial and ethnic groups?
    • A: Among women, the age-adjusted prevalence of obesity (BMI > 30) in racial and ethnic groups is higher
      among non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic women than among non-Hispanic White women. Among these 
      three groups of men, the difference in prevalence is less significant. In this context, the term Hispanic 
      includes Mexican Americans.[4] 
    • Non-Hispanic Black Women: 49.6 percent
      Hispanic Women: 43 percent
      Non-Hispanic White Women: 33 percent
    • Non-Hispanic Black Men: 37.3 percent
      Hispanic Men: 34.3 percent
      Non-Hispanic White Men: 31.9 percent
      (Statistics are for populations age 20 and older.)

    Q: What are the percent distributions of obesity in other racial and ethnic groups?** 
    • A: Gender-specific data for Asian Americans, Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians or 
      Other Pacific Islanders are not available. Following are percent distributions of obesity for men and women 
      in these groups. Rates of obesity among Asian Americans are much lower in comparison to other racial and 
      ethnic groups.[8]
    • Asian Americans: 8.9 percent
      Native Americans and Alaska Natives: 32.4 percent
      Native Hawaiians or Other Pacific Islanders: 31 percent
    • The statistics presented in this section for adults and racial and ethnic groups are based on the following 
      definitions unless otherwise specified: healthy weight = BMI > 18.5 to < 25; overweight = BMI > 25 to < 30; 
      obesity = BMI > 30; and extreme obesity = BMI > 40. BMI is a number calculated from a person’s weight 
      and height.[1]
    • **Statistics are for populations age 18 and older.

    Figure. Overweight and Obesity, by Age: United States, 1971-2006.

    SOURCES: CDC/NCHS, Health, United States, 2008, Figure 7. Data from the National Health and Nutrition 
    Examination Survey.

    Q: What is the prevalence of overweight and obesity in children and adolescents?
    A: Data from the NHANES survey (2003–2006) indicate that approximately 12.4 percent of children age 2 to 5 
    and 17 percent of children age 6 to 11 were overweight.*** About 17.6 percent of adolescents (age 12 to 19) 
    were overweight in 2003–2006.[9]

*** Overweight is defined by the sex- and age-specific 95th percentile cutoff points of the 2000 CDC growth charts. These revised growth charts include smoothed sex-specific BMI for-age-percentiles and are based on data from NHES II (1963 to 1965) and III (1966 to 1970), and NHANES I (1971 to 1974), II (1976 to 1980), and III (1988 to 1994). The CDC BMI growth charts specifically excluded NHANES III data for children older than 6 years.[10]

    Q: What is the mortality rate associated with obesity?
    A: Most studies show an increase in mortality rates associated with obesity. Individuals who are obese have 
    a significantly increased risk of death from all causes, compared with healthy weight individuals (BMI 18.5 to 
    24.9). The increased risk varies by cause of death, and most of this increased risk is due to cardiovascular 
    causes. Obesity is associated with over 112,000 excess deaths due to cardiovascular disease, over 15,000 
    excess deaths due to cancer, and over 35,000 excess deaths due to non-cancer, non-cardiovascular disease 
    causes per year in the U.S. population, relative to healthy-weight individuals.