Obese adults may have lower micronutrient intakes

January 23, 2015

According to a new US study there are lower micronutrient intakes and a higher prevalence of insufficient micronutrient supply among obese adults compared to normal weight adults.

The observational study compared the usual intake for essential nutrients between normal weight (BMI of 25 or less), overweight (BMI between 25 and 30) and obese (BMI of 30 or more) adult Americans using data from the big National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 2001-2008 (1). The study results showed that while the majority of Americans are lacking adequate nutrient intake, overweight and obese adults are at a higher risk for insufficient nutrient intake. Compared to normal weight adults, obese adults had about 5% to 12% lower intakes of micronutrients and higher prevalence of inadequate nutrient supply. For example, 48% of normal weight individuals did not meet the recommended intakes for calcium, while 50% of overweight and 51% of obese individuals fell short of calcium requirements. Also, 45% of normal weight individuals showed insufficient vitamin A intakes, while 50% of overweight and 52% of obese individuals fell short of vitamin A requirements.

The researchers noted that the normal weight group ate the most, taking in 2,216 daily calories on average, compared to 2,002 calories for the overweight group and 2,154 for the obese group, which indicates that lifestyle factors, such as greater exercise for normal weight group, and possibly genetic factors are in play. The normal weight group also ate the most fruit, while the consumption of vegetables was level across the three groups. In addition, the study showed that dietary supplement users had higher overall intakes and a lower prevalence of inadequacy of micronutrients compared to non-supplement users. The NHANES data shows that a high percent of the population have problems meeting recommended nutrient intake for vitamins A, CD and Emagnesium and calcium.


  1. Agarwal S. et al. Comparison of Prevalence of Inadequate Nutrient Intake Based on Body Weight Status of Adults in the US: An Analysis of NHANES 2001-2008. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. Published online January 2015.