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Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity

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Explore the latest data for the LHI topic Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity.
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Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going

In 2008, Federal Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans were released, and the Healthy People 2020 physical activity objectives developed in 2010 reflected these guidelines. From 2008 to 2014, the rate for adults aged 18 years and over who met the guidelines for aerobic physical activity and muscle-strengthening activity increased by 17%, from 18.2% to 21.3% (age adjusted), exceeding the Healthy People 2020 target of 20.1%.
 
Between 2003–2004 and 2013–2014, the obesity rate increased among adults aged 20 years and over, from 32.2% in 2003–2004 to 37.7% in 2013–2014, age adjusted. However, during the same time period, no statistically significant change in obesity was seen among youth aged 2–19 years (17.1% in 2003–2004 and 17.2% in 2013–2014).
 
Between 2005–08 and 2009–12, there was no statistically significant change in the mean daily vegetable intake for persons aged 2 years and over (0.76 cup equivalents of total vegetables per 1,000 calories in 2005–08 and 0.77 in 2009–12, age adjusted). The Healthy People 2020 target is 1.16 cup equivalents per 1,000 calories.
 

Leading Health Indicators

Explore the latest data and disparities for each indicator.
Physical Activity in Adults (PA-2.4)
Obesity in Adult (NWS-9)
Obesity in Children and Adolescents (NWS-10.4)
Total Vegetable Intake (NWS-15.1)

Physical Activity in Adults (PA-2.4)

  • Healthy People 2020 objective PA-2.4 is the Leading Health Indicator for physical activity and tracks the proportion of adults who meet current Federal physical activity guidelines for aerobic physical activity and for muscle-strengthening activity.
    • HP2020 Baseline: In 2008, 18.2% of persons aged 18 years and over were engaged in aerobic physical activity of at least moderate intensity for at least 150 minutes/week or 75 minutes/week of vigorous intensity or an equivalent combination and performed muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days of the week (age adjusted).  
    • HP2020 Target: 20.1%, a 10% improvement over the baseline. 
  • In 2014, American Indian or Alaska Native adults had the highest rate among racial and ethnic groups, with 23.8% of adults aged 18 years and over (age adjusted) who met current Federal physical activity guidelines for aerobic physical activity and for muscle-strengthening activity. Rates for the other racial/ethnic groups were:
    • 20.0% among the Black non-Hispanic population
    • 23.5% among the White non-Hispanic population
    • 15.1% among the Hispanic population 
    • 21.0% among the adults who reported 2 or more races
    • 17.5% among the Asian population  
  • Males aged 18 years and over had a higher rate (25.2%, age adjusted) of meeting the current Federal physical activity guidelines than females (17.6%, age adjusted) in 2014.
  • In 2014, adults aged 25 years and over with advanced degrees had a higher rate of meeting the current Federal physical activity guidelines (31.3%, age adjusted) than their counterparts when data are assessed by educational attainment. Those with less than a high school education and high school graduates had rates of 6.9% and 12.9% (age adjusted), respectively.
    • The rate of meeting the current Federal physical activity guidelines for adults aged 25 years and over with advanced degrees was about 4.5 times the rate for adults without a high school education.  

Physical Activity by Education: Adults 25 Years and Over, 2014

Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity Web Graphic

 

Data source: National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), CDC/NCHS.

  • Adults aged 18 years and over without activity limitations (22.6%, age adjusted) had a higher rate of meeting the physical activity guidelines than adults with activity limitations (13.7%, age adjusted) in 2014.
  • In 2014, adults aged 18–24 years had the highest rate of meeting the physical activity guidelines, 31.1%, among age groups. Rates for the other age groups were:
    • 25.1% among those aged 25–44 years 
    • 19.3% among those aged 45–54 years 
    • 16.1% among those aged 55–64 years 
    • 14.4% among those aged 65–74 years 
    • 9.0% among those aged 75–84 years 
    • 5.1% among those aged 85 years and over
  • Adults aged 18–64 years with private health insurance had the highest rate (27.3%, age adjusted) among insurance groups in 2014. Those with public insurance and the uninsured had rates of 14.0% and 15.5% (age adjusted), respectively.
  • In 2014, adults aged 18 years and over in families with incomes 600% or more of the poverty threshold had the highest rate of physical activity, 35.0% (age adjusted). Rates for individuals in other income groups were:
    • 11.4% for those with incomes under the poverty threshold
    • 13.3% for those with incomes 100% to 199% of the poverty threshold 
    • 19.5% for those with incomes 200% to 399% of the poverty threshold 
    • 24.6% for those with incomes 400% to 599% of the poverty threshold
  • In 2014, adults aged 18 years and over living in metropolitan areas (22.2%, age adjusted) had a higher rate of meeting the physical activity guidelines than those living in nonmetropolitan areas (15.8%, age adjusted).
  • Adults aged 18 years and over born outside the U.S. had a lower rate of meeting physical activity guidelines (15.3%, age adjusted) than adults born in the U.S. (22.8%, age adjusted) in 2014.  
  • Among adults aged 18 years and over, widowed persons had the lowest rate of meeting physical activity guidelines (15.8%, age adjusted) among groups by marital status in 2014. Rates for married, divorced, and never-married persons were 20.8%, 20.1%, and 21.3% (age adjusted), respectively. 

Endnotes:

  • All disparities described are statistically significant at the 0.05 level of significance. 
  • Data (except those by educational attainment, health insurance status, and age group) are age adjusted to the 2000 standard population using the age groups 18–24, 25–34, 35–44, 45–64, and 65 years and over. Data by educational attainment are adjusted using the age groups 25–34, 35–44, 45–64, and 65 years and over. Data by health insurance status are adjusted using the age groups 18–44, 45–54, and 55–64. Data by age group are not age adjusted. Age-adjusted rates are weighted sums of age-specific rates.
  • Data for this measure are available annually and come from the National Health Interview Survey, CDC/NCHS. 

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Obesity in Adults (NWS-9)

  • Healthy People 2020 objective NWS-9 tracks the proportion of adults who are obese (BMI ≥ 30).
    • HP2020 Baseline: In 2005–08, 33.9% of adults aged 20 years and over were obese (age adjusted).  
    • HP2020 Target: 30.5%, a 10% improvement over the baseline.
  • Most Recent: In 2013–14, 37.7% of adults aged 20 years and over were obese (age adjusted).  
  • Among racial and ethnic groups, the white non-Hispanic population had the lowest rate of obesity, 36.4% among adults aged 20 years and over (age adjusted) in 2013–14, whereas the black non-Hispanic and Hispanic populations had rates of 48.4% and 42.6% (age adjusted), respectively. The rate for the black non-Hispanic population was almost 1.5 times the rate for the white non-Hispanic population.  

Adult Obesity by Race/Ethnicity, 2013–14

Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity Web Graphic

Data source: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), CDC/NCHS.
 
  • Adults aged 20 years and over without activity limitations had a lower rate of obesity than adults with activity limitations (35.4% versus 47.5%, age adjusted, in 2013–14). The rate for adults with activity limitations was almost 1.5 times the rate for persons without activity limitations.
  • Among education groups for adults aged 25 years and over, college graduates or above had the lowest rate of obesity, 28.7% (age adjusted) in 2013–14, whereas adults with less than a high school education had a rate of 42.4% (age adjusted), high school graduates had a rate of 44.0% (age adjusted), and adults with some college education or an AA degree had a rate of 45.6% (age adjusted). The rates for adults with less than a high school education and high school graduates were about 1.5 times the best group rate; the rate for adults with some college education or an AA degree was more than 1.5 times the best group rate.
  • Adults aged 20 years and over born outside of the U.S. had a lower rate of obesity than adults born in the U.S. (30.1% versus 39.3%, age adjusted, in 2013–14). The rate for adults born in the U.S. was almost 1.5 times the rate for adults born outside of the U.S.
  • Among groups by health insurance status for adults aged 20–64 years, those with private health insurance had the lowest rate of obesity, 35.4% (age adjusted) in 2013–14, whereas adults with public insurance had a rate of 46.5% (age adjusted) and those without insurance had a rate of 39.2% (age adjusted). The rate for those with public health insurance was almost 1.5 times the rate for those with private insurance. The rate for those without health insurance was not significantly different than the rate for those with private insurance. 
  • Adults aged 65 years and over had the lowest rate of obesity, 35.9% in 2013–14, among broad age groups. Rates for the other age groups were:
    • 36.2% among adults aged 20–44 years; not significantly different than the best group rate
    • 41.1% among adults aged 45–64 years 
  • When further refining the age groups, adults aged 80 years and over had the lowest rate of obesity, 25.2% in 2013–14. Rates for the other age groups were:
    • 25.3% among adults aged 20–24 years; not significantly different than the best group rate
    • 39.1% among adults aged 25–44 years; about 1.5 times the best group rate
    • 39.0% among adults aged 45–54 years; about 1.5 times the best group rate
    • 43.4% among adults aged 55–64 years (highest rate); more than 1.5 times the best group rate
    • 40.2% among adults aged 65–74 years; more than 1.5 times the best group rate
    • 35.2% among adults aged 75–79 years; almost 1.5 times the best group rate

Endnotes:

  • Unless otherwise stated, all comparisons described are statistically significant at the 0.05 level of significance.
  • Data for this measure are available biennially and come from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), CDC, NCHS. Preferably 4 years of data are pooled for analysis when available, but 2-year data are used as a placeholder to provide the latest data available.
  • Caution should be used when interpreting comparisons that do not reach the level of statistical significance because they are based on only 2 years of data and sample sizes may be relatively small and result in rates with relatively large variability for some subgroups.   
  • The terms “Hispanic or Latino” and “Hispanic” are used interchangeably in this report.  
  • 2005–08 data (except those by educational attainment, health insurance status, and age group) are age adjusted to the 2000 standard population using the age groups 20–29, 30–39, 40–49, 50–59, 60–69, 70–79, and 80 years and over. Data by educational attainment  are adjusted using the age groups 25–29, 30–39, 40–49, 50–59, 60–69, 70–79, and 80 years and over. Data by health insurance status are adjusted using the age groups 20–29, 30–39, 40–49, 50–59, and 60–64 years. Data by age group are not age adjusted. 2013–14 data (except those by educational attainment, health insurance status, and age group) are age adjusted to the 2000 standard population using the age groups 20–39, 40–59, and 60 years and over. Data by educational attainment are adjusted using the age groups 25–39, 40–59, and 60 years and over. Data by health insurance status are adjusted using the age groups 20–39, 40–59, and 60–64 years. Data by age group are not age adjusted. Age-adjusted rates are weighted sums of age-specific rates. 

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Obesity in Children and Adolescents (NWS-10.4)

  • Healthy People 2020 objective NWS-10.4 tracks the proportion of children and adolescents who are considered obese (BMI at or above the gender- and age-specific 95th percentile from the CDC Growth Charts; United States).
    • HP2020 Baseline: In 2005–08, 16.1% of children and adolescents aged 2–19 years were considered obese.  
    • HP2020 Target: 14.5%, a 10% improvement over the baseline.  
    • Most Recent: In 2013–14, 17.1% of children and adolescents aged 2–19 years were considered obese.  
  • Among racial and ethnic groups, the white non-Hispanic population had the lowest rate of obesity, 15.3% of youth aged 2–19 years in 2013–14, whereas the Hispanic and black non-Hispanic populations had rates of 21.3% and 18.8%, respectively. The rate for the Hispanic population was almost 1.5 times the rate for the white non-Hispanic population. The rate for the black non-Hispanic population was not significantly different than the rate for the white non-Hispanic population.
  • Youth aged 2–19 years with private health insurance had the lowest rate of obesity, 13.8% among health insurance status groups. Those with public insurance and the uninsured had rates of 21.1% and 19.5%, respectively. The rate for youth with public insurance was about 1.5 times the best group rate. The rate for youth without health insurance was not significantly different than the best group rate.   
  • Youth aged 2–19 years living in families with incomes 400% to 499% of the poverty threshold had the lowest rate of obesity among family income groups, 12.1% in 2013–14. Rates for individuals in other family income groups were:
    • 18.5% for those with incomes under the poverty threshold; not significantly different than the best group rate
    • 21.3% for those with incomes 100% to 199% of the poverty threshold; nearly twice the best group rate
    • 16.6% for those with incomes 200% to 399% of the poverty threshold; not significantly different than the best group rate

Endnotes:

  • Unless otherwise stated, all comparisons described are statistically significant at the 0.05 level of significance.
  • Data for this measure are available biennially and come from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), CDC, NCHS. Preferably 4 years of data are pooled for analysis when available, but 2-year data are used as a placeholder to provide the latest data available.  
  • Caution should be used when interpreting comparisons that do not reach the level of statistical significance because they are based on only 2 years of data and sample sizes may be relatively small and result in rates with relatively large variability for some subgroups.   
  • The terms “Hispanic or Latino” and “Hispanic” are used interchangeably in this report.  

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Total Vegetable Intake (NWS-15.1)

  • Healthy People 2020 objective NWS-15.1 tracks the contribution of total vegetables to the diets of the population aged 2 years and over.
    • HP2020 Baseline: In 2005–08, 0.76 cup equivalents of total vegetables per 1,000 calories was the mean daily intake by persons aged 2 years and over (age adjusted).  
    • HP2020 Target: 1.16 cup equivalents per 1,000 calories (age adjusted), or the 90th percentile of usual vegetable intake at baseline. 
    • Most Recent: In 2009–12, 0.77 cup equivalents of total vegetables per 1,000 calories was the mean daily intake by persons aged 2 years and over (age adjusted).   
  • Among racial and ethnic groups, the Hispanic and the white non-Hispanic populations had the highest mean daily vegetable intakes, 0.79 and 0.77 cup eq. per 1,000 kcal (age adjusted), respectively, whereas the black non-Hispanic population had a mean daily vegetable intake of 0.66 cup eq. per 1,000 kcal (age adjusted) in 2009–12.  
  • Females had a higher mean daily vegetable intake than males (0.83 versus 0.71 cup eq. per 1,000 kcal, age adjusted in 2009–12).
  • Adults aged 20 years and over without activity limitations had a higher mean daily vegetable intake than adults with activity limitations (0.88 versus 0.77 cup eq. per 1,000 kcal, age adjusted, in 2009–12).
  • Persons aged 51 years and over had the highest mean daily vegetable intake, 0.98 cup eq. per 1,000 kcal (not age adjusted) in 2009–12, among broad age groups. Rates for the other age groups were:
    • 0.78 cup eq. per 1,000 kcal among persons aged 19–50 years 
    • 0.52 cup eq. per 1,000 kcal among persons aged 2–18 years

 

Mean Daily Intake of Total Vegetables by Age, 2009–12

Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity Web Graphic

Data source: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), CDC/NCHS.

  • Among education groups for adults aged 25 years and over, college graduates or above had the highest mean daily vegetable intake, 1.00 cup eq. per 1,000 kcal (age adjusted), whereas adults with less than a high school education, high school education, and some college education or an AA degree had intakes of 0.81, 0.79, and 0.84 cup eq. per 1,000 kcal (age adjusted), respectively. 
  • Persons from families in income groups at 200% or more of the federal poverty threshold and over had a higher mean daily vegetable intake than persons from families in lower income groups (0.76–0.83 versus 0.72–0.73 cup eq. per 1,000 kcal, age adjusted) in 2009–12. 
  • Persons born outside of the U.S. had a higher mean daily vegetable intake than persons born in the U.S. (0.89 versus 0.75 cup eq. per 1,000 kcal, age adjusted) in 2009–12.

Endnotes:

  • Unless otherwise stated, all comparisons described are statistically significant at the 0.05 level of significance.
  • Data for this measure are available biennially and come from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), CDC, NCHS. Preferably 4 years of data are pooled for analysis when available. Cup equivalents were calculated using the USDA Food Patterns Equivalents Database (FPED).
  • The terms “Hispanic or Latino” and “Hispanic” are used interchangeably in this report.
  • Data (except those by educational attainment, disability status, health insurance coverage, and age group) are age adjusted using the age groups 2–5, 6–11, 12–19, 20–29, 30–39, 40–49, 50–59, 60–69, 70–79, and 80 years and over. Data by educational attainment are adjusted using the age groups 25–29, 30–39, 40–49, 50–59, 60–69, 70–79, and 80 years and over. Data by disability status are adjusted using the age groups 20–29, 30–39, 40–49, 50–59, 60–69, 70–79, and 80 years and over. Data by health insurance coverage are adjusted using the age groups 2–3, 4–8, 9–13, 14–18, 19–30, 31–50, and 51–64. Data by age group are not age adjusted. Age-adjusted rates are weighted sums of age-specific rates. 

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