Cancer Survivors and Weight

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In 2019, 33.0% of cancer survivors aged 20 years and older were obese.

Summary graph for Cancer Survivors and Weight, Click to see detailed view of graph

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Background

Adopting or maintaining a healthy lifestyle after cancer has the potential to reduce both cancer- and non-cancer-related morbidity. Preventing excess body weight and obesity can enhance the length and health-related quality of life of cancer survivors, and it can reduce the risk of developing cancers that have been linked to excess body weight, including colorectal, breast (among women who have gone through menopause), endometrial, esophageal, renal cell (kidney), and pancreatic cancer.

As the number of cancer survivors grows and expected survival time increases, the health behaviors of these individuals are becoming an important focus of attention. 

Measure

Rates of obesity among cancer survivors are based on the self-reporting of individuals with a cancer history, who are interviewed as part of the annual population-based National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). These weight groups are defined by a measurement called body mass index (BMI), which is calculated by dividing weight in kilograms by height in meters squared. For most adults, experts consider a BMI of 30 and over to be obese.

Healthy People 2030 Target

  • There is no Healthy People 2030 target for obesity rates among cancer survivors, though Healthy People does include a national objective to increase the mental and physical health-related quality of life of cancer survivors; however, the goal for the general population is to reduce the proportion of adults with obesity to 36.0 percent.

Healthy People 2030 is a set of goals set forth by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Note: Goals are indicated as blue line on Detailed Trend Graphs.

Data Source

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. National Health Interview Survey, 1992–2019.

Trends and Most Recent EstimatesHelp with navigating the graphs and data tables

Overweight

By Sex
Percentage of cancer survivors aged 20 years and older who were overweight by sex, 1992-2019
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2019)
Percent of cancer survivors 95% Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of cancer survivors aged 20 years and older who were overweight by sex, 1992-2019 Both SexesClick to see the detailed trend graph for Both Sexes 36.1 34.1 - 38.2
MaleClick to see the detailed trend graph for Male 40.9 37.5 - 44.4
FemaleClick to see the detailed trend graph for Female 32.2 29.8 - 34.7
By Time Since Cancer Diagnosis
Percentage of cancer survivors aged 20 years and older who were overweight by time since cancer diagnosis, 1992-2019
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2019)
Percent of cancer survivors 95% Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of cancer survivors aged 20 years and older who were overweight by time since cancer diagnosis, 1992-2019 5 years or lessClick to see the detailed trend graph for 5 years or less 34.2 30.8 - 37.7
6+ yearsClick to see the detailed trend graph for 6+ years 37.9 35.4 - 40.4
Compared to Remaining U.S. Population
Comparison of cancer survivors and remaining U.S. population for percentage of adults aged 18 years and older who were overweight, 2015-2019
Overview graph Age Group Cancer Survivor Remaining U.S. Population
Percent of population Confidence Interval Percent of population Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Comparison of cancer survivors and remaining U.S. population for percentage of adults aged 18 years and older who were overweight, 2015-2019 Ages 18 and older 32.0 29.7 - 34.3 34.2 33.9 - 34.6

Obese

By Sex
Percentage of cancer survivors aged 20 years and older who were obese by sex, 1992-2019
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2019)
Percent of cancer survivors 95% Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of cancer survivors aged 20 years and older who were obese by sex, 1992-2019 Both SexesClick to see the detailed trend graph for Both Sexes 33.0 31.0 - 35.0
MaleClick to see the detailed trend graph for Male 32.7 29.4 - 36.1
FemaleClick to see the detailed trend graph for Female 33.3 30.9 - 35.9
By Time Since Cancer Diagnosis
Percentage of cancer survivors aged 20 years and older who were obese by time since cancer diagnosis, 1992-2019
Overview Graph Detailed Trend Graphs Most Recent Estimates (2019)
Percent of cancer survivors 95% Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Percentage of cancer survivors aged 20 years and older who were obese by time since cancer diagnosis, 1992-2019 5 years or lessClick to see the detailed trend graph for 5 years or less 35.9 32.3 - 39.6
6+ yearsClick to see the detailed trend graph for 6+ years 31.8 29.3 - 34.3
Compared to Remaining U.S. Population
Comparison of cancer survivors and remaining U.S. population for percentage of adults aged 18 years and older who were obese, 2015-2019
Overview graph Age Group Cancer Survivor Remaining U.S. Population
Percent of population Confidence Interval Percent of population Confidence Interval
Thumbnail of graph for Comparison of cancer survivors and remaining U.S. population for percentage of adults aged 18 years and older who were obese, 2015-2019 Ages 18 and older 33.7 31.3 - 36.2 30.8 30.3 - 31.2

Evidence-based Resources

Resources are available to assist cancer control planners, program staff, and researchers to design, implement, and evaluate evidence-based survivorship programs.  Visit Cancer Control P.L.A.N.E.T.- survivorship for data on cancer incidence, research syntheses, cancer control plans, research-tested interventions, interactive communities of practice, and other resources. 

Additional Information on Cancer Survivors and Weight

Year Range

1992-2019

Recent Summary Trend Year Range

2015-2019

Summary Tables

Survival, Smoking, Obesity, Physical Activity

Recent Summary Trend

Rising

Desired Direction

Falling