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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.Download the latest Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity data in spreadsheet format [XLSX - 44 KB]

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 that were developed in 2010 reflected these guidelines. From 2008 to 2012, the rate at which adults met guidelines for aerobic activity and muscle strengthening increased by 13% from 18.2% to 20.6% (age adjusted), exceeding the Healthy People 2020 target of 20.1%.

Between 1988–94 and 2003–04, the obesity rate increased among men aged 20 years and over from 20.2% to 31.1% (age adjusted), and among women from 25.4% to 33.2% (age adjusted). During the same period, the obesity rate increased among boys aged 2 to 19 years from 10.2% to 18.2%, and among girls from 9.8% to 16.0%. Between 2003–04 and 2011–12 there were no statistically significant changes among adults or children.

Among Americans aged 2 years and over, average daily vegetable intake has not met the recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. In 2001–04 and 2007–10, the mean daily intake by persons aged 2 and over was unchanged at 0.8 cup equivalents of total vegetables per 1,000 calories (age adjusted). The Healthy People 2020 target is 1.1 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 2012, adults who reported 2 or more races had the highest rate among racial and ethnic groups, with 27.2% of adults aged 18 years and over (age adjusted) who meet current Federal physical activity guidelines for aerobic physical activity and for muscle-strengthening activity. Rates for the other racial/ethnic groups were:
    • 16.6% among the black non-Hispanic population
    • 22.8% among the white non-Hispanic population
    • 15.4% among the Hispanic population
    • 18.6% among the American Indian or Alaska Native population
    • 17.1% among the Asian population
  • Males (24.3%, age adjusted) had a higher rate of meeting the current Federal physical activity guidelines than females (17.1%, age adjusted) in 2012.
  • In 2012, adults aged 25 years and over with advanced degrees had a higher rate of meeting the current Federal physical activity guidelines than their counterparts (30.9%, age adjusted) when data are assessed by educational level for adults aged 25 years and over. Those with less than a high school education and high school graduates had rates of 7.5% and 12.3% (age adjusted), respectively.
    • When expressed as adults not meeting the physical activity guidelines, the rate for adults aged 25 years and over without a high school education was almost 1.5 times the rate for adults with advanced education.

Adult Physical Activity by Education, 2012

Adult Physical Activity by Education, 2012 graphic

SOURCE: National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), CDC/NCHS

  • Adults without activity limitations (22.3%, age adjusted) had a higher rate of meeting the physical activity guidelines than adults with activity limitations (10.6%, age adjusted) in 2012.
  • In 2012, adults aged 18–24 years had the highest rate of meeting the physical activity guidelines, 29.7%, among all age groups. Rates for the other age groups were:
    • 24.2% among those aged 25–44 years
    • 18.2% among those aged 45–54 years
    • 16.0% among those aged 55–64 years
    • 14.8% among those aged 65–74 years
    • 9.1% among those aged 75–84 years
    • 4.7% among those aged 85 years and over
  • Adults aged 18–64 years with private health insurance had the highest rate (27.0%, age adjusted) of meeting the physical activity guidelines among groups by health insurance coverage in 2012. Those with public insurance and the uninsured had rates of 12.5% and 15.1% (age adjusted), respectively.
  • In 2012, adults in families with incomes 600% of the poverty threshold and over had the highest rate of meeting the physical activity guidelines, 33.4% (age adjusted). Rates for the other income groups were:
    • 10.2% for those with incomes under the poverty threshold
    • 13.6% for those with incomes 100% to 199% of the poverty threshold
    • 18.6% for those with incomes 200% to 399% of the poverty threshold
    • 25.7% for those with incomes 400% to 599% of the poverty threshold
  • In 2012, adults living in metropolitan areas (21.9%, age adjusted) had a higher rate of meeting the physical activity guidelines than those living in nonmetropolitan areas (13.5%, age adjusted).
  • Adults born outside of the U.S. had a lower rate of meeting the physical activity guidelines (15.8%, age adjusted) than adults born in the U.S. (21.8%, age adjusted) in 2012.
  • Among adults aged 25 years and over, widowed persons had the lowest rate of meeting the physical activity guidelines (10.9%, age adjusted) among groups by marital status in 2012. Rates were 19.7%, 20.1%, and 20.9% (age adjusted) for married, divorced, and never-married persons, respectively.

Endnotes:

  • All disparities described are statistically significant at the 0.05 level of significance.
  • Data (except those by education status, health insurance coverage, 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 education status are adjusted using the age groups 25–34, 35–44, 45–64, and 65 years and over. Data by health insurance coverage 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 Adult (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.
  • Among racial and ethnic groups, the white non-Hispanic population had the lowest rate of obesity, 33.4% of adults aged 20 years and over (age adjusted) in 2009–12, whereas the black non-Hispanic and Hispanic populations had rates of 48.6% and 40.5% (age adjusted), respectively. The rate for the black non-Hispanic population was about 1.5 times the rate for the white non-Hispanic population.

Adult Obesity by Race/Ethnicity, 2009–12

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

Accessible Version

Adult Obesity by Race/Ethnicity, 2009–12RaceRate of Obesity in AdultWhite non-Hispanic33.4%Hispanic40.5%Black non-Hispanic48.6%

  • Adults aged 20 years and over without activity limitations had a lower rate of obesity than adults with activity limitations (33.7% versus 43.2%, age adjusted, in 2009–12). The rate for adults with activity limitations was almost 1.5 times the rate for persons without activity limitations.
  • Among groups by education status for adults aged 25 years and over, college graduates or above had the lowest rate of obesity, 27.8% (age adjusted) in 2009–12, whereas adults with less than a high school education had a rate of 38.5% (age adjusted), high school graduates had a rate of 40.5% (age adjusted), and adults with some college education or an AA degree had a rate of 41.6% (age adjusted). The rate for adults with less than a high school education was almost 1.5 times the best group rate; the rates for high school graduates and adults with some college education or an AA degree were about 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. (27.6% versus 37.0%, age adjusted, in 2009–12). The rate for adults born in the U.S. was about 1.5 times the rate for adults born outside of the U.S.
  • Among groups by health insurance coverage for adults aged 20–64 years, those without health insurance had the lowest rate of obesity, 33.7% (age adjusted) in 2009–12, whereas adults with public insurance had a rate of 41.8% (age adjusted) and those with private insurance had a rate of 34.2% (age adjusted). The rate for those with private insurance was not significantly different than the rate for those without health insurance.
  • Adults aged 20–44 years had the lowest rate of obesity, 32.5% in 2009–12, among broad age groups. Rates for the other age groups were:
    • 39.3% among adults aged 45–64
    • 35.6% among adults aged 65 years and over
  • When further refining the age groups, adults aged 80 years and over had the lowest rate of obesity, 23.1% in 2009–12. Rates for the other age groups were:
    • 24.3% among adults aged 20–24 years; not significantly different than the best group rate
    • 34.7% among adults aged 25–44 years; 1.5 times the best group rate
    • 38.2% among adults aged 45–54 years; more than 1.5 times the best group rate
    • 40.5% among adults aged 55–64 and 65–74 years (highest rates); nearly twice the best group rate
    • 37.4% among adults aged 75–79 years; more than 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.
  • The terms “Hispanic or Latino” and “Hispanic” are used interchangeably in this report.
  • Data (except those by education status, health insurance coverage, 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 education status 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 coverage are adjusted using the age groups 20–29, 30–39, 40–49, 50–59, and 60–64. 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, U.S.).
    • HP2020 Baseline: In 2005–08, 16.1% of children and adolescents aged 2 to 19 years were considered obese.
    • HP2020 Target: 14.5%, a 10% improvement over the baseline.
  • Among racial and ethnic groups, the white non-Hispanic population had the lowest rate of obesity, 14.0% of youth aged 2 to 19 years in 2009–12, whereas the black non-Hispanic and Hispanic populations had rates of 22.1% and 21.8%, respectively. The rates for the black non-Hispanic and Hispanic populations were more than 1.5 times the rate for the white non-Hispanic population.
  • Youth aged 2 to 19 years with private health insurance had the lowest rate of obesity, 14.6% in 2009–12. Those with public insurance and the uninsured had rates of 19.7% and 18.6%, respectively. The rates for youth with public or no insurance were almost 1.5 times the best group rate.
  • Youth aged 2 to 19 years from families with incomes 400% to 499% of the poverty threshold had the lowest rate of obesity, 11.3% in 2009–12. Rates for the other income groups were:
    • 20.9% for those with incomes under the poverty threshold; nearly 2 times the best group rate
    • 18.5% for those with incomes 100% to 199% of the poverty threshold; more than 1.5 times the best group rate
    • 15.9% for those with incomes 200% to 399% of the poverty threshold; about 1.5 times the best group rate
    • 11.6% for those with incomes 500% of the poverty threshold; not significantly different than the best group rate

Child and Adolescent Obesity by Family Income, 2009–12

Child and Adolescent Obesity by Family Income, 2009–12

SOURCE: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), CDC/NCHS

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.
  • 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 2001–04, 0.8 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: 1.1 cup equivalents per 1,000 calories (age adjusted), 90th percentile of usual vegetable intake at baseline.
  • Among racial and ethnic groups, the Hispanic and white non-Hispanic populations had the highest mean daily vegetable intakes, 0.8 cup equivalents per 1,000 calories (age adjusted), whereas the black non-Hispanic population had a mean daily vegetable intake of 0.7 cup equivalents per 1,000 calories (age adjusted) in 2007–10.
  • Females had a higher mean daily vegetable intake than males (0.8 versus 0.7 cup equivalents per 1,000 calories, age adjusted, in 2007–10).
  • Adults aged 20 years and over without activity limitations had a higher mean daily vegetable intake than adults with activity limitations (0.9 versus 0.8 cup equivalents per 1,000 calories, age adjusted, in 2007–10).
  • Persons aged 51 years and over had the highest mean daily vegetable intake, 1.0 cup equivalents per 1,000 calories (not age adjusted) in 2007–10, among broad age groups. Rates for the other age groups were:
    • 0.8 cup equivalents per 1,000 calories among persons aged 19–50 years
    • 0.5 cup equivalents per 1,000 calories among persons aged 2–18 years
  • Among education groups for adults aged 25 years and over, college graduates or above had the highest mean daily vegetable intake, 1.0 cup equivalents per 1,000 calories (age adjusted), whereas adults with less than a high school education, high school graduates, and adults with some college education or an AA degree had intakes of 0.8 cup equivalents per 1,000 calories (age adjusted).
  • Persons from families with incomes 200% of the federal poverty threshold and over had a higher mean daily vegetable intake than persons from families with lower incomes (0.8 versus 0.7 cup equivalents per 1,000 calories, age adjusted) in 2007–10.
  • Persons born outside of the U.S. had a higher mean daily vegetable intake than persons born in the U.S. (0.9 versus 0.8 cup equivalents per 1,000 calories, age adjusted) in 2007–10.

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 MyPyramid Equivalents Database for 2001–04 data and USDA Food Patterns Equivalents Database (FPED) for 2007–10 data.
  • The terms “Hispanic or Latino” and “Hispanic” are used interchangeably in this report.
  • Data (except those by education status, 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 education status 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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