1.3% of U.S. adults documented to have ME/CFS in 2021-2022

December 8, 2023


The NCHS Data Brief No. 488, released this month by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, presents key findings on Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) in U.S. adults based on the 2021–2022 National Health Interview Survey. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines ME/CFS as a “complex, multisystem illness characterized by activity-limiting fatigue, worsening of symptoms after activity, and other symptoms (1). It affects all age, sex, and racial and ethnic groups and costs the U.S. economy about $18–$51 billion annually (2,3,4,5).”

The report reveals that 1.3% of adults had ME/CFS, with a higher prevalence among women. The likelihood of having ME/CFS increased with age up to 60–69 years, declining in those aged 70 and older. White non-Hispanic adults exhibited a higher prevalence (1.5%) compared to Hispanic (0.8%) and Asian non-Hispanic (0.7%) adults. Individuals with a family income less than 100% of the federal poverty level had a higher percentage of ME/CFS (2.0%), and prevalence increased with greater rurality of residence. The report emphasizes the impact of demographic and geographic factors on ME/CFS prevalence, noting limitations in the analysis based on diagnosed cases and potential underestimation due to undiagnosed individuals.


Citation for report:

Vahratian A, Lin JS, Bertolli J, Unger ER. Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome in adults: United States, 2021–2022. NCHS Data Brief, no 488. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2023. DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.15620/cdc:134504.