Six in 10 obese adults have joint pain

Research Activities, April 2012

Fifty-eight percent of obese and nearly 69 percent of extremely obese adults age 20 or older reported suffering from joint pain in 2009, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

The Federal agency found that among obese adults, nearly 42 percent reported having a heart condition, 42 percent said they had elevated cholesterol and 15 percent said they suffered from diabetes. The percentages of those with a heart condition or diabetes were typically higher among those who were considered extremely obese (having a body mass index of 40 or more).

The Federal agency's analysis of the prevalence of obesity in 2009 also found that:

  • One in four American adults was considered obese and another 5 percent were considered extremely obese.
  • Black Americans were more likely than other racial or ethnic groups to be obese (31 percent) or extremely obese (8 percent) as compared with Hispanics, whites, and all other races, which were primarily Asian.
  • Adults with a college degree were less likely to be obese (20 percent) or extremely obese (3 percent) compared with high school graduates and those with less than a high school degree.

The data in this AHRQ News and Numbers summary are taken from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), a detailed source of information on the health services used by Americans, the frequency with which they are used, the cost of those services and how they are paid. For more information, go to Statistical Brief #364: Obesity in America: Estimates for the U.S. Civilian Noninstitutionalized Population Age 20 and Older, 2009.

For additional information, or to speak with an AHRQ data expert, please contact Linwood Norman at or (301) 427-1248.

Page last reviewed April 2012
Internet Citation: Six in 10 obese adults have joint pain: Research Activities, April 2012. April 2012. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.