The percentage of underweight U.S. children and adults has dropped significantly in the last 30 years, a new government study shows.
Among the findings:
•3.3% of children and teens, ages 2 to 19, were underweight in 2006, down from 5.1% in 1974.
•1.8% of adults, ages 20 to 74, were underweight in 2006, down from 3.6% in 1974 and 4% in 1962.
"As our whole population has gotten heavier, the percentage of people who are underweight has gotten lower," says Cynthia Ogden, an epidemiologist with the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
About a third of children and teens and two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese, government data shows.
People who are underweight often suffer from poor nutrition or have underlying health conditions, such as cancer and other chronic diseases, says the CDC's Cheryl Fryar.
These findings are based on the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which is considered the gold standard for evaluating weight in the USA because it is an extensive survey of people whose weight and height are actually measured rather than being self-reported.
News release provided by USA Today. Visit www.USAtoday.com for more headlines.