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Int J Obes (Lond). 2006 Sep;30(9):1375-81. Epub 2006 Mar 21.

Secular trends in desired weight of adults.

Author information

  • 1Chronic Disease Nutrition Branch, Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity, NCCDPHP, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30341, USA.

Erratum in

  • Int J Obes (Lond). 2006 Sep;30(9):1461.



The prevalence of overweight and obese adults in the United States is at record levels.


The primary purpose is to describe secular trends in desired weight among adults from 1994 to 2003, and secondarily, to examine the hypothetical impact of achieving desired weight on obesity prevalence.


Data were from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (1994, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2003), a random-digit-dialed telephone survey.


Sample included respondents from 47 states and the District of Columbia.


Non-institutionalized adults aged 18 years or older were included (N=703 286).


Primary outcome measures included reported weight and desired weight.


Means for desired weight increased 2.3 kg between 1994 and 2003, and reported weights increased 3.9 kg. The increased trend was observed across several subgroups for age, race/ethnicity and education. Within subgroups of weight status, the trend has remained relatively stable, particularly when examined in relation to the difference between reported and desired weight as a percentage of reported body weight. Generally, overweight men desired weights approximately 4.5% less than their reported weight, and obese men desired weights approximately 15% less than their reported weight for each corresponding year. For women, approximate values of desired weight were 12% less than reported weight for overweight women and 24% less for obese women. The prevalence of obesity would decrease to 4.4% if individuals weighed their desired weight.


Americans are shifting their desired weight upward, concomitantly with an increase in their reported body weight.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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