More for the Money? Differences in the Prevalence of Adult Obesity by Income Level - United States, 1999-2002

Allison A. Hedley, Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.
Cynthia Ogden, National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), CDC

Between 1988-94 and 1999-2002, the prevalence of adult obesity in the U.S. increased from 22.9 to 30.4 percent. In 1988-94, the prevalence of obesity was significantly higher for low-income non-Hispanic white males and non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, and Mexican American females than their high-income counterparts. Using National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 1999-2002 data for 6,997 adults aged 20 years and older, we tested differences in the prevalence of adult obesity by income level within sex and racial/ethnic groups with the t-statistic to determine if significant differences by income level still exist. In 1999-2002, only non-Hispanic white females had a significantly higher prevalence of obesity in the low-income versus the high-income group. Compared to 1988-94, the reduction in socioeconomic differentials in obesity prevalence is concerning because it results from increases in the prevalence of obesity among the high-income group. Public health interventions for obesity should target all income levels.

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Presented in Session 88: Socioeconomic Determinants of Obesity