New Report on Children and Adolescent Body Measurements

August 4, 2021

NHSR160_Cover1NCHS releases a new report, “Mean Body Weight, Height, Waist Circumference, and Body Mass Index Among Children and Adolescents: United States, 1999–2018” that presents trends in mean weight, recumbent length, height, waist circumference, and body mass index (BMI) among children and adolescents in the United States from 1999 through 2018.

Key Findings:

  • No significant trends over time were observed in any of the body measures for children aged 2–5 years, except for an increase in mean BMI among girls.
  • Among girls aged 6–11, mean height and waist circumference significantly increased from 1999–2000 through 2003–2004, and then significantly decreased for height but remained stable for waist circumference through 2017–2018.
  • Among those aged 12–15, mean body weight and waist circumference increased over time among boys, and BMI increased among both boys and girls.
  • Among adolescent boys aged 16–19, body weight significantly increased from 1999–2000 through 2009–2010 and
    then significantly decreased through 2017–2018. In addition, height remained stable through 2009–2010 and then significantly decreased through 2017–2018.
  • Among adolescent girls aged 16–19, mean body weight, waist circumference, and BMI significantly increased from 1999–2000 through 2017–2018.

Prepregnancy Body Mass Index by Maternal Characteristics and State: Data From the Birth Certificate, 2014

August 5, 2016

Prepregnancy Body Mass Index Infographic1A new NCHS report describes prepregnancy body mass index (BMI) among women giving birth in 2014 for the 47-state and District of Columbia reporting areas that implemented the 2003 U.S. Standard Certificate of Live Birth by January 1, 2014.


  • Among women giving birth in 2014, 3.8% were underweight (BMI is less than 18.5), 45.9% were of normal weight (BMI is 18.5–24.9), 25.6% were overweight (BMI is 25.0–29.9), and 24.8% were obese (BMI is greater than 29.9) before becoming pregnant.
  • The prevalence of overweight and obesity before pregnancy was lowest among women under age 20, non-Hispanic Asian women, women with at least a college degree, women giving birth for the first time, and women using self-payment for delivery.
  • Women with obesity before pregnancy were more likely to be older (aged 40–54), non-Hispanic black or non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaska Native, at least partially college educated, to have had three previous births or more, or using Medicaid for payment of delivery.
  • Prepregnancy obesity prevalence increased in 30 of the 37 reporting areas that adopted the 2003 certificate in 2011 and 2014.


Obesity – Americans still growing, but not as fast

January 14, 2010

New data in the latest Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) from NCHS statisticians show that the increasing rate of obesity may be slowing, although the prevalence of adults who are obese is still high. The numbers from 2007-2008 show that 33.8% of U.S. adults are obese (32.2% for men, 35.5% for women). The growth of the obesity rate in the U.S. over the past 40 years is depicted below.

Obesity by age, United States, 1971-1974 through 2005-2006:

For the data table, visit and see Trend Table 75.

Obesity information-it starts with the letters NHANES

August 5, 2009

Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released information concerning the prevalence and costs of the growing epidemic of obesity in the United States. Some of the most critical information concerning the weight of the nation is collected in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which takes actual measurements of a nationally representative sample of the U.S. population.

For the most recent information on obesity and overweight, please visit the Health E-Stat report at

For a more general overview, visit

As always, the NCHS press office can be reached at 301-458-4800.

Underweight older adults, children decrease in U.S.

July 15, 2009

Poor nutrition or underlying health conditions can sometimes cause a person to be underweight. Data from the 2003-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) showed that an estimated 1.8% of U.S. adults are underweight. Between 1988-1994 and 2003-2006, a statistically significant decrease in the percentage of those underweight was found only among those aged 60 and over. In this age group, the percentage underweight was 2.3% in 1988-1994 and 1.2% in 2003-2006.

For more, visit

Results from the 2003-2006 NHANES showed that about 3.3% of children and adolescents aged 2-19 years are underweight. Trends from 1971-1974 to 2003-2006 show that there has been an overall significant decrease in underweight children and adolescents, from 5.1% to 3.3%. Underweight significantly decreased from 5.8% to 2.8% among 2-5 year olds and from 5.3% to 2.7% among 6-11 year olds. Among adolescents aged 12-19, underweight decreased, although not significantly, from 4.7% to 3.8% during the same time period.

For more, visit

New height, weight, and BMI tables available

October 29, 2008

This report presents national anthropometric reference data for all ages of the U.S. population in 2003–2006, adding to results published previously from 1960–2002. These latest NHANES data add to the knowledge about trends in child growth and development and trends in the distribution of body measurements, such as weight and height, in the U.S. population. To see full report, click here.