Adult Obesity Facts
- More than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7%) are obese. [Read data brief [PDF-528Kb]]
- Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death. [Read guidelines]
- In 2008, medical costs associated with obesity were estimated at $147 billion; the medical costs for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight. [Read summary]
- Non-Hispanic blacks have the highest age-adjusted rates of obesity (49.5%) compared with Mexican Americans (40.4%), all Hispanics (39.1%) and non-Hispanic whites (34.3%) [See JAMA. 2012;307(5):491-497. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.39].
- Among non-Hispanic black and Mexican-American men, those with higher incomes are more likely to be obese than those with low income.
- Higher income women are less likely to be obese than low-income women.
- There is no significant relationship between obesity and education among men. Among women, however, there is a trend—those with college degrees are less likely to be obese compared with less educated women.
- Between 1988–1994 and 2007–2008 the prevalence of obesity increased in adults at all income and education levels.
- Changes to the CDC’s BRFSS and to exclusion criteria result in a new baseline for estimated state adult obesity prevalence starting with the 2011 data. Because of these changes, estimates of obesity prevalence from 2011 forward cannot be compared to estimates from previous years.
- Shifts in estimates from previous years may be the results of the new methods, rather than measurable changes in the percentages. The direction and magnitude of changes in each state varies. These variations may depend on the characteristics of the population.
- State prevalence of obesity remained high across the country in 2011.
- By state, obesity prevalence ranged from 20.7% in Colorado to 34.9% in Mississippi in 2011. No state had a prevalence of obesity less than 20%. 39 states had a prevalence of 25% or more; 12 of these states had a prevalence of 30% or more: Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia.
- The South had the highest prevalence of obesity (29.5%), followed by the Midwest (29.0%), the Northeast (25.3%) and the West (24.3%).
|District of Columbia||23.7||(21.9, 25.7)|
|New Hampshire||26.2||(24.7, 27.7)|
|New Jersey||23.7||(22.7, 24.8)|
|New Mexico||26.3||(25.1, 27.6)|
|New York||24.5||(23.2, 25.9)|
|North Carolina||29.1||(27.7, 30.6)|
|North Dakota||27.8||(26.3, 29.4)|
|Rhode Island||25.4||(23.9, 27.0)|
|South Carolina||30.8||(29.6, 32.1)|
|South Dakota||28.1||(26.3, 30.1)|
|West Virginia||32.4||(30.9, 34.0)|
- There was a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States from 1990 through 2010.
- State prevalence prior to 2011 is provided for historical information only. Historical rates should not be compared to 2011 state obesity prevalence due to changes in survey methods.
- No state met the nation's Healthy People 2010 goal to lower obesity prevalence to 15%. Rather, in 2010, there were 12 states with an obesity prevalence of 30%. In 2000, no state had an obesity prevalence of 30% or more. [Read article]
- The animated map below shows the history of United States obesity prevalence from 1985 through 2010.
|Percent of Obese (BMI > 30) in U.S. Adults|
|2010 State Obesity Rates|
|District of Columbia||22.2||Massachusetts||23.0||North Dakota||27.2||Washington||25.5|
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Download the New Baseline Map
Changed Methods, New Baseline
Like all public health surveillance systems, BRFSS must occasionally change its methods to adapt to the changing world and to maintain validity. The changes to the BRFSS affect obesity prevalence estimates, and mean that data collected in 2010 and before can’t be compared to the 2011 estimates. Learn more about the changes to the BRFSS.
Download the Historical Maps
The history of the increase in state obesity prevalence is depicted in a PowerPoint slide presentation format. (31 slides total, PPT-3Mb). Estimates of obesity prevalence from 2011 forward cannot be compared to estimates from previous years.
This is also available as a text-only Acrobat file [PDF-472k].