Title of article:

Changes in the distribution of body mass index of adults and children in the US population

Authors: Flegal KM, Troiano RP.
Journal: Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord, Jul 2000;24(7):807-18

Abstract

BACKGROUND: National survey data show increases in mean body mass index (BMI) and in the prevalence of overweight and obesity for adults and children in the United States, indicating a change in the distribution of BMI. OBJECTIVE: To apply graphical methods to describe changes in the distribution of BMI. DESIGN: BMI values from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III: 1988-94) were compared with data from earlier cross-sectional nationally representative surveys for adults 20-74 y of age and for children and adolescents 6-17 y of age. Tukey mean-difference plots were used to investigate the changes in the distributions of BMI within sex-age groups. RESULTS: Mean-difference plots allow qualitative visual comparisons of the distributions of BMI between surveys. For all sex-age groups, there was increasing skewness with a greater shift in the upper part of the distribution so that, within each group, the heaviest subgroup was heavier in NHANES III than in prior surveys. For the youngest children, the lower part of the distribution showed virtually no change. With increasing age the whole distribution tended to shift upward slightly, suggesting an increase in BMI across the entire population. CONCLUSIONS: These changes in the distribution of BMI suggest the combination of both profound environmental determinants and a population with a high degree of susceptibility. The reasons for the increasing prevalence of obesity should be sought in part by seeking to understand the factors causing increases in the population as a whole.

Comments and Key points

This article shows tables of data comparing American's Body Mass Index (BMI) in 1976-80 versus 1988-94. The data is:

Median BMI Men Women
  1976-80 1988-94 1976-80 1988-94
Age 20 to 29 23.7 24.3 22.0 22.7
Age 30 to 39 25.1 25.7 23.1 24.4
Age 40 to 49 25.9 26.3 24.1 25.4
Age 50 to 59 25.8 27.2 25.3 27.1
Age 60 to 69 25.7 27.1 25.6 26.6
Age 70 to 74 25.2 26.1 25.9 26.3

The article also shows children's data, comparing 1963-70 versus 1988-94.

Median BMI Boys Girls
Age 1963-70 1988-94 1963-70 1988-94
6 15.4 15.7 15.2 15.3
7 15.6 15.8 15.5 15.8
8 15.9 16.3 16.0 16.6
9 16.2 17.0 16.3 16.6
10 16.5 17.7 16.9 17.3
11 17.2 18.3 17.5 18.5
12 17.7 19.0 18.5 19.4
13 18.7 19.5 19.3 20.5
14 19.6 20.8 20.2 21.1
15 20.3 20.9 20.6 21.1
16 20.7 21.1 21.0 21.2
17 21.4 21.8 21.0 22.2

When this data is graphed, you can see the pattern, that children and adults are fatter, recently in 1988-1994 survey.

Changing BMI of the USA population

That's it. This actual article managed to show 11 pages of description, analysis, hypotheses and discussion. But I have summarized the bottom line.

Review & comments by Steven B. Halls, MD, Edited last on 23-June, 2008, Copyright.
Back to Bibliography of BMI articles.

halls.md body mass index