Obesity, Abdominal Obesity, Physical Activity, and Caloric Intake in US Adults: 1988-2010

Background: Obesity and abdominal obesity are independently associated with morbidity and mortality. Physical activity attenuates these risks. We examined trends in obesity, abdominal obesity, physical activity, and caloric intake in U.S. adults from 1988 to 2010.

  • Methods: Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed using National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data.
  • Results:
    • Average body-mass index (BMI) increased by 0.37% (95% CI, 0.30-0.44%) per year in both women and men. Average waist circumference increased by 0.37% (95% CI, 0.30-0.43%) and 0.27% (95% CI, 0.22-0.32%) per year in women and men, respectively. The prevalence of obesity and abdominal obesity increased substantially, as did the prevalence of abdominal obesity among overweight adults. Younger women experienced the greatest increases.
    • The proportion of adults who reported no leisure-time physical activity increased from 19.1% (95% CI, 17.3-21.0%) to 51.7% (95% CI, 48.9-54.5%) in women, and from 11.4% (95% CI, 10.0-12.8%) to 43.5% (95% CI, 40.7-46.3%) in men. Average daily caloric intake did not change significantly.
    • BMI and waist circumference trends were associated with physical activity level, but not caloric intake. The associated changes in adjusted BMIs were 8.3% (95% CI, 6.9-9.6%) higher among women and 1.7% (95% CI, 0.68-2.8%) higher among men with no leisure-time physical activity compared to those with an ideal level of leisure-time physical activity.
    • Conclusions: Our analyses highlight important dimensions of the public health problem of obesity, including trends in younger women and in abdominal obesity, and lend support to the emphasis placed on physical activity by the Institute of Medicine.

Ladabaum, Uri et al. ( In Press Accepted Manuscript 2014). Obesity, Abdominal Obesity, Physical Activity, and Caloric Intake in U.S. Adults: 1988-2010. The American Journal of Medicine. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.amjmed.2014.02.026

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