Epidemiology of Obesity in Adults: Latest Trends

Yosuke Inoue, Bo Qin, Jennifer Poti, Rebeccah Sokol, Penny Gordon-Larsen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: An increasing trend in obesity prevalence since the early 1980s has posed a significant population health burden across the globe. We conducted a systematic review for studies using measured anthropometry to examine trends in obesity in the USA published from 2012 to 2018 and for systematic reviews to document trends in obesity across the globe published from 2014 to 2018. RECENT FINDINGS: For the USA, the only nationally representative data source capturing trends in obesity in this period was the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which uses repeated cross-sectional data to document national trends in obesity in the USA. For global trends, the only systematic reviews of obesity across the globe were the Global Burden of Disease Obesity study and the Non-communicable Disease Risk Factor Collaboration study. In general, the population distribution of body mass index (BMI) in the USA has shifted towards the upper end of its distribution over the past three decades. The global distribution has similarly increased, albeit with large regional differences. US and global studies suggest an increasing trend in obesity since the 1980s, and there is a dearth of nationally representative longitudinal studies using measured anthropometry to capture trends in adult obesity in the USA for the same individuals over time. Greater efforts are needed to identify factors contributing to the continued increases in obesity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)276-288
Number of pages13
JournalCurrent obesity reports
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018


  • Body mass index
  • Obesity
  • Population health
  • Prevalence


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