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Shocking U.S. Obesity Trends: Facts & Stats

By Marc Perry / July 1, 2017

We know that collectively Americans have packed on the pounds, but how much and how fast body weight has increased is simply shocking! Below you will find a short presentation on the rise of obesity in America, several relevant stats about U.S. obesity, and some links and resources for more information.

U.S. Obesity Trends: From 1985 to the Present (Must See!)

My jaw dropped when I saw the following presentation which shows the prevalence of obesity in each state since 1985. Notice how the colors change from blue to red, which indicates a shift from less than 15% obesity rate to over 30%. Just click the arrow to the right of the presentation to get started and click through each slide.

Let’s take a closer look at the stats shown in this presentation1:

  • # of States with Greater than 20% Obesity: 1990 = 0, 2000 = 22, 2010 = 50
  • By state, obesity prevalence, on the basis of self-report, ranged from 21% in Colorado to 34% in Mississippi in 2010. Twelve states had a prevalence of 30% or more.
  • The South has the highest obesity prevalence (29.4%) followed by the Midwest (28.7%), Northeast (24.9%) and the West (24.1%).
  • In 2010, 12 states had higher than 30% obesity rate, so what will 2020 look like? Will that number double to 24 states with obesity rate of 30% or above?

    U.S. Obesity Facts & Stats

    For more information on how obesity is measured, see the next section.

  • 34% of American adults are obese (BMI greater than 30)2
  • 34% of American adults are overweight (BMI greater than 25)
  • Over 50% of American adults who are considered “normal weight” carry an unhealthy amount of body fat, which is clinically referred to as normal weight obesity.”
  • In 2008, medical costs associated with obesity were estimated at $147 billion; the medical costs paid by third-party payers for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight.
  • Non-Hispanic blacks have the highest rates of obesity (44.1%) compared with Mexican Americans (39.3%), all Hispanics (37.9%) and non-Hispanic whites (32.6%).34

    How is Obesity Measured?

    Body Mass Index (BMI) is a number calculated from a person’s weight and height and is an indicator of body fatness for most people, but is not a perfect predictor of body fatness. BMI is calculated by taking weight in kilograms dividing by the square of height in metres (kg/m2 ). For more on BMI, it’s reliability, and a BMI calculator, see Ideal Body Weight Formula.

    What do you think of these stats and the presentation?

    Show 4 References

    1. Overweight and Obesity. CDC. 2012.
    2. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db82. Accessed February 10, 2013.
    3. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db50.pdf. Accessed February 10, 2013.
    4. Flegal K, Carroll M, Ogden C, Curtin. Prevalence and Trends in Obesity Among US Adults, 1999-2008. Clinician’s Corner. 2010.


    • Mike says:

      Canadian here, that is shocking. I'd love to see the Canadian numbers or those from other countries for comparison.

    • mary says:

      Wow, is this scary!

    • Allan Holtz says:

      I believe obesity leads to lots of our nation's escalating health costs. As a person who actively works to stay as healthy as possible and invests his own time and money in treadmills and more costly fruits and vegetables and supplements, I am tired of having to subsidize the health expenses of those who choose an unhealthy life style via my insurance premium. I think health insurance should be more based on ones personal situation rather than a "everyone lumped together approach", which we seem to be going to via the "Affordable Health Care Act", which I believe is neither affordable or health care - it is unaffordable and insurance! Plus it does not provide incentives for people to try a healthy life style.