These statistics, based on data from the 2009-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination, show little change compared to 12 years ago, although there have been increases in certain demographics, researchers said.
“There was an increase in males overall, especially adult males,” Dr. Cynthia Ogden, an epidemiologist and branch chief at the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, told FoxNews.com. Ogden led the study along with Dr. Katherine Flegal, senior research scientist, and other colleagues at the CDC in Hyattsville, Md.
“It’s important to track obesity, because we know that it’s related to certain types of cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease,” Ogden said. “It really is linked to many chronic health conditions in adults.”
Monitoring children is also important because “obese children often track to be obese adults,” she added.
According to the survey, the average body mass index (BMI) for men and women in the U.S. is 28.7. A BMI of 25 or greater is considered overweight, while a BMI of 30 or greater is considered obese.
The prevalence of people classified as overweight or obese is 68.8 percent of the population overall – 73.9 percent of men are overweight or obese, while 63.7 percent of women are. The prevalence of obesity in children is approximately 17 percent.
“The good news is the prevalence hasn’t gone up – but it also hasn’t gone down,” Ogden said. “And the prevalence of obesity in men has caught up to women. Obesity used to be more prevalent among women [12 years ago].”
The study will be published in the Journal of American Medical Association. It was released online in advance due to its “public health importance,” the researchers said.