Obesity and severe obesity rose significantly in adults but not in children from 2007 to 2016, according to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

The age-standardized prevalence of obesity – defined as a body mass index of 30 or more – among adults aged 20 years and over increased from 33.7% for the 2-year period of 2007-2008 to 39.6% in 2015-2016, while the prevalence of severe obesity – defined as a body mass index of 40 kg/m2 or more – went from 5.7% to 7.7% over that same period, Craig M. Hales, MD, and his associates at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Hyattsville, Md., and Atlanta said in a research letter published in JAMA.

The prevalence of obesity in children aged 2-19 years – defined as BMI at or above the sex-specific 95th percentile – increased, but not significantly, from 16.8% in 2007-2008 to 18.5% in 2015-2016, with most of that increase coming in the last 2 years. Severe obesity – BMI at or above 120% of the sex-specific 95th percentile – rose from 4.9% to 5.6% over those 10 years, but the last 2-year period saw the rate drop from 6% in 2013-2014, the investigators reported.

For the most recent reporting period, boys were more likely than girls to be obese (19.1% vs. 17.8%) and severely obese (6.3% vs. 4.9%), and both obesity and severe obesity were more common with increasing age. Obesity prevalence went from 13.9% in those aged 2-5 years to 20.6% in 12- to 19-year-olds, and severe obesity was 1.8% in the youngest group and 7.7% in the oldest, with the middle-age group (6-11 years) in the middle in both categories, they said

Among the adults, obesity was more common in women than men (41.1% vs. 37.9%) for 2015-2016, as was severe obesity (9.7% vs. 5.6%). Obesity and severe obesity were both highest in those aged 40-59 years, but obesity prevalence was lowest in the younger group (20-39 years) and severe obesity was least common in the older group (60 years and older), Dr. Hales and his associates said.

The analysis involved 16,875 children and 27,449 adults over the 10-year period. The investigators did not report any conflicts of interest.

SOURCE: Hales CM et al. JAMA 2018 Mar 23. doi: 10.1001/jama.2018.3060.