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Am J Public Health. 1996 Dec;86(12):1729-35.

Trends in overweight among US adults from 1987 to 1993: a multistate telephone survey.

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Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30341-3724, USA.



Using data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, this study describes trends in the prevalence of overweight between 1987 and 1993.


Data were examined from 33 states participating in an ongoing telephone survey of health behaviors of adults (n = 387,704). Self-reported weights and heights were used to calculate sex-specific prevalence estimates of overweight for each year from 1987 to 1993. Time trends were evaluated with the use of linear regression.


Between 1987 and 1993, the age-adjusted prevalence of overweight increased by 0.9% per year for both sexes (from 21.9% to 26.7% among men and from 20.6% to 25.4% among women). The increasing linear trend was observed in all subgroups of the population but was most notable for Black men (1.5% per year) and men living in the Northeast (1.4% per year). Secular changes in smoking and leisure-time physical activity did not entirely account for the increase in overweight.


The prevalence of overweight among American adults increased by 5% between 1987 and 1993. Efforts are needed to explore the causes of this adverse trend and to find effective strategies to prevent obesity.

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