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Is the BMI for Californians Increasing? Trends in Weight and Body Mass Index among Californians

2009 | Download

Estimates indicate that almost two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese and that rates in obesity for the nation have increased from 15 percent in 1980 to 32 percent in 2004. Being overweight or obese increases a person’s risk for serious disease such as: type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Persons who are obese may also experience social stigma and discrimination. Higher body weight is also associated with increased mortality. Overweight is the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Weight is one measure to examine trends in body weight.

However another measure which takes into account the height of a person is the Body Mass Index (BMI). The Body Mass Index (BMI) is a statistical measure of the weight of a person scaled by their height that is used by many physicians and researchers studying obesity. It is defined as the individual’s body weight divided by the square of their height.

In 2007 the average BMI, which was 26.8 among all adults in California, was higher among males than females (27.3 vs. 26.3 respectively). The average BMI was highest among Blacks (28.9) and lowest among other adults (24.3). Among Whites the mean BMI was 26.9 and among Hispanics it was 27.7. The average BMI was correlated with a person’s education as well as poverty.

Download the full study.


The California Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System is an ongoing effort by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), in conjunction with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Public Health Institute, to assess the prevalence of and trends in health-related behaviors in the California population aged 18 years and older. It is supported in part by funds from the Cooperative Agreement No. U58/DP922811-05W1 from CDC, and in part by funds from the CDPH and other programs and state departments. Data are collected monthly from a random sample of California adults living in households with telephones. The BRFSS database contains information on Californians from 1984 through the present.