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Overweight and Obesity


Being overweight or obese is associated with an increased risk of numerous diseases and conditions, including high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, certain types of cancer, and reproductive health risks.1 The annual medical costs attributable to obesity are estimated to be as high as $147 billion.1 Measurements of overweight and obesity are based on Body Mass Index (BMI), which is a ratio of weight to height. In 2005–2008, two-thirds of adults were overweight or obese; this includes 33.2 percent who were classified as overweight (BMI of 25.0 to 29.9) and 33.4 percent of adults who were classified as obese (BMI of 30.0 or more).

In 2005–2008, women were less likely than men to be overweight (27.3 versus 39.6 percent, respectively) but more likely than men to be obese (34.9 versus 31.8 percent, respectively). The excess obesity among women compared to men was entirely restricted to extreme obesity defined by a BMI of 40.0 or more (7.1 versus 4.1 percent, respectively). Overweight/obesity varied by poverty status in different ways for men and women. Among women, obesity was highest among those with household incomes of less than 100 percent of poverty, and there was no consistent pattern for overweight. Among men, however, both overweight and obesity tended to increase with household income. The sex difference in obesity was highest among those with household incomes of less than 100 percent of poverty (40.0 percent among women versus 27.2 percent among men) and disappeared among those with household incomes of 300 percent or more of poverty (31.1 percent among women versus 32.5 percent among men). With respect to overweight, women were less likely to be overweight than men at every income level.

Overweight/obesity also varies by race and ethnicity. In 2005–2008, non-Hispanic Black and Mexican-American women were significantly more likely to be obese than non-Hispanic White women (50.1 and 41.6 versus 32.7 percent, respectively). Higher obesity rates have also been reported among American Indian/Alaska Native women.2 Community prevention strategies that seek to address risk factors for overweight and obesity by promoting healthy eating and physical activity include efforts to improve access to healthy foods, parks, and recreational facilities.3

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Overweight and Obesity. December 2009. Accessed 12/16/09.
2 Sundaram AA, Ayala C, Greenlund KJ, Keenan NL. Differences in the prevalence of self-reported risk factors for coronary heart disease among American women by race/ethnicity and age: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2001. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2005;29(5 Suppl 1):25-30.
3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recommended community strategies and measurements to prevent obesity in the United States. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2009;24;58(RR-7):1-26.



Overweight and Obesity* Among Adults Aged 18 and Older, by Poverty Status** and Sex, 2005–2008
Poverty Status Percent of Adults
Total Obese Overweight
Female Male Female Male Female Male
*Overweight is defined as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) between 25.0 and 29.9; obesity is defined as having a BMI of 30.0 or more. Percentages may not add to totals due to rounding.
**Poverty level, defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, was $22,025 for a family of four in 2008.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2005-2008. Analysis conducted by the Maternal and Child Health Information Resource Center.
Total 62.1 71.4 34.9 31.8 27.3 39.6
Less Than 100% of Poverty 65.2 62.5 40.0 27.2 25.2 35.3
100-199% of Poverty 68.3 67.0 39.8 31.9 28.5 35.1
200-299% of Poverty 65.7 73.9 36.3 33.8 29.4 40.1
300% or More of Poverty 57.7 74.5 31.1 32.5 26.6 42.0

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