Data from two major surveys, conducted in Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area in 1973-74 and 1980-81, were used to estimate the prevalence of overweight. In 1980-81, weight history and the prevalance of dieting behaviors were also obtained. The prevalence of overweight was greater in the 1980-81 survey than in 1973-74. Increases were observed in all ages in women, but only in the 40-59 year age ranges in men. In 1980-81, dieting to control weight was widely reported by both sexes, even among those who had never been overweight. Of those who reported having been overweight, approximately one-third reported they had successfully reduced. More men than women reported having been overweight, but more women reported having dieted to lose weight. Formal weight reduction programs were used much more by women than men. Although most dieting attempts consisted of balanced, reduced calorie regimens, a significant percentage were 'fad' types, whose nutritional safety may be questioned. Overall, contrary to findings based on clinical populations, weight reducing efforts often appear to be successful. Nevertheless, overweight remains a significant public health problem in this community.