The State of Obesity in the US

The annual State of Obesity report came out the other day giving a comprehensive look at the latest national and statewide trends. More than just obesity, the report compiled the latest data on related health conditions (type 2 diabetes and hypertension), risk factors (physical inactivity), and social determinants (socioeconomics and food security).

The real benefit with the new data though is in it’s presentation, with more interactive data allowing users to more easily make comparisons across states and age groups.

Here’s what one of the interfaces looks like.

obesity map

And here are a few high-points from the data:

  • rates of obesity now exceed 35 percent in three states (Arkansas, West Virginia and Mississippi)
  • 22 states have rates above 30 percent, 45 states are above 25 percent, and every state is above 20 percent
  • Arkansas has the highest adult obesity rate at 35.9 percent, while Colorado has the lowest at 21.3 percent
  • 23 of 25 states with the highest rates of obesity are in the South and Midwest.

Beyond just how prevalent overweight and obesity is, new data contextualize important disparities in risk and implications for healthcare costs and economics.

Here are two important examples: key differences in child obesity prevalence based on parent’s educational attainment, and differences in obesity prevalence across race.

socioeconomics overview3

The big thing we’ve been hearing more about over the past few years are the economic implications of obesity and chronic diseases. Look no further than the healthcare sector to see this.

healthcare-costsI’m a research and data geek, so I’ll spare you more of the details.

But I do highly recommend going to to check out the recent data. It paints a stark picture of health in the US.

As someone who works with overweight and obese kids and teens, it’s a sobering reminder about why I do what I do.


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