CDC released new data on self-reported adult obesity prevalence for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico. The 2017 Adult Obesity Prevalence Maps show that adult obesity across the country remains high and differs by race, ethnicity, and education. The data come from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, an ongoing, state-based, telephone interview survey conducted by CDC and state health departments. Height and weight data are self-reported.
In 2017, seven states reported an adult obesity prevalence at or above 35 percent: Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and West Virginia. This is up from five states in 2016. Five years ago, in 2012, all states had obesity prevalence lower than 35 percent.
Obesity prevalence ranged from a low of 22.6 percent in Colorado to a high of 38.1 percent in West Virginia.
Disparities persist across race, ethnicity, and education
Non-Hispanic Blacks had the highest prevalence of obesity (39.0 percent), followed by Hispanics (32.4 percent) and non-Hispanic Whites (29.3 percent)
Adults without a high school degree had the highest prevalence of obesity at 35.6 percent, followed by high school graduates (32.9 percent), and adults with some college (31.9 percent). College graduates had the lowest prevalence of obesity (22.7 percent).
Combined data for 2015-2017 also showed racial disparities:
31 states and the District of Columbia had an obesity prevalence of 35 percent or higher among non-Hispanic Black adults.
8 states had an obesity prevalence of 35 percent or higher among Hispanic adults.
1 state had an obesity prevalence of 35 percent or higher among non-Hispanic White adults.
Adults with obesity are at an increased risk for many serious health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, poorer mental health, and more. Children with obesity are more likely to become adults with obesity. Obesity costs the United States health care system over $147 billion a year. In addition, research has shown that obesity affects work productivity and military readiness.
What can be done to prevent obesity
Turning the tide on obesity will take a comprehensive effort by all parts of society. State and community leaders, employers, government agencies, healthcare providers, and individuals all have an important role in preventing and managing obesity. To protect the health of the next generation, support for healthy behaviors such as healthy eating, better sleep, stress management, and physical activity should start early and expand to reach Americans across the lifespan in the communities where they live, learn, work, and play.
The 2017 obesity maps are online at https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/prevalence-maps.html. Maps showing obesity overall, as well as by race and ethnicity, also are available for 2011 through 2016.