- More than 30% of Americans said they were obese in 2015, compared with 19% in 1997
- Obesity rates were highest among middle-aged adults and blacks
- In other measures of health, Americans are doing better than they have in decades
Every year since 1957, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been asking Americans 18 and older about their health and the health of their family members as part of the National Health Interview Survey. The new report contains data from the 2015 survey, which included more than 100,000 people.
"There are some positives that we see" in the report, said Brian Ward, health statistician at CDC's National Center for Health Statistics and one of the authors of the report
, which came out this week.
One such positive was that participants seemed to have more access to health care in 2015 than in recent years, based on their answers about whether they were insured and had a place to go for medical care, such as a doctor's office or clinic.
However, the big negative is that the rate of obesity in the United States is continuing its upward march. In 2015, 30.4% of Americans 20 and older said they were obese, up from 29.9% in 2014.
Although the 2015 rate is not significantly higher than the previous year's, it represents a continuation of a trend that has been going on since at least 1997, when researchers began using the current survey and when only 19.4% of Americans said they were obese.
"That is not a good trend there," Ward said. "[But] it is not necessarily anything unexpected."
Black Americans report higher obesity rates
Other surveys say the problem is even worse. In 2012, the National Health and Nutrition Survey
found that 34.9% of adults 20 and older were obese. For that survey, CDC researchers measured the weight and height of more than 9,000 Americans to calculate their BMI, or body mass index.
Adults with a BMI of 30 or higher are considered obese, whereas those between 25 and 29 are "overweight."