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Prevalence of Obesity by Occupation Among US Workers: The National Health Interview Survey 2004–2011

Gu, Ja K. MSPH; Charles, Luenda E. PhD, MPH; Bang, Ki Moon PhD, MPH; Ma, Claudia C. MPH; Andrew, Michael E. PhD; Violanti, John M. PhD; Burchfiel, Cecil M. PhD, MPH

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: May 2014 - Volume 56 - Issue 5 - p 516–528
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000133
Original Articles

Objective: To estimate the prevalence of obesity and the change of prevalence of obesity between 2004−2007 and 2008−20011 by occupation among US workers in the National Health Interview Survey.

Methods: Self-reported weight and height were collected and used to assess obesity (body mass index ≥ 30 kg/m2). Gender-, race/ethnicity-, and occupation-specific prevalence of obesity were calculated.

Results: Prevalence of obesity steadily increased from 2004 through 2008 across gender and race/ethnicity but leveled off from 2008 through 2011. Non-Hispanic black female workers in health care support (49.2%) and transportation/material moving (46.6%) had the highest prevalence of obesity. Prevalence of obesity in relatively low-obesity (white-collar) occupations significantly increased between 2004−2007 and 2008−2011, whereas it did not change significantly in high-obesity (blue-collar) occupations.

Conclusions: Workers in all occupational categories are appropriate targets for health promotion and intervention programs to reduce obesity.

From the Biostatistics and Epidemiology Branch, Health Effects Laboratory Division (Mr Gu, Dr Charles, Mrs Ma, Dr Andrew, and Dr Burchfiel) and Surveillance Branch, Division of Respiratory Disease Studies (Dr Bang), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morgantown, WV; and Department of Social and Preventive Medicine (Dr Violanti), School of Public Health and Health Professions, State University of New York, University at Buffalo.

Address correspondence to Ja K. Gu, MSPH, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, HELD/BEB, Mailstop L-4050, 1095 Willowdale Rd, Morgantown, WV 26505 (

The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

None of the authors have any conflicts of interest. Authors used CDC public leased data.

Copyright © 2014 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine