Obesity Rates Remain Steady but High, Study Finds

Obesity Rates Remain Steady but High, Study Finds

Obesity rates in the United States remained high in 2014 and increased in five states, a report from Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation finds.

The annual study, The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America 2015 (116 pages, PDF), found that some 78 million Americans are obese, which puts them at an increased risk of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Adult obesity rates exceeded 25 percent in forty-five states and 30 percent in twenty-two states, up from forty-two and twenty states, respectively, in 2013. Adult obesity rates increased in Kansas, Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio, and Utah, while remaining largely stable in the rest of the country, ranging from 21.3 percent in Colorado to 35.9 percent in Arkansas. In 1980, no state had an adult obesity rate above 15 percent, and in 1991, no state had a rate above 20 percent. According to the report, seven of the ten states with the highest rates were in the South, as were nine of the ten states with the highest rates of diabetes.

According to the report, 68.6 percent of adults nationwide were overweight or obese and 34.9 percent were obese, with the highest obesity rate among American Indian/Alaska Natives (54 percent), followed by African Americans (47.8 percent), Latinos (42.5 percent), whites (32.6 percent), and Asian Americans (10.8 percent). Among children and teenagers, 31.8 percent were overweight or obese and nearly 17 percent were obese, including 5 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 11 and 6.5 percent of those between the ages of 12 and 19 who were severely obese. Child obesity rates also were highest among American Indian/Alaska Natives, followed by Latinos (22.5 percent), African Americans (20.2 percent), whites (14.1 percent), and Asian Americans (6.8 percent).

"In order to build a national Culture of Health, we must help all children, no matter who they are or where they live, grow up at a healthy weight," said RWJF president and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey. "We know that when we take comprehensive steps to help families be more active and eat healthier foods, we can see progress. Now we must extend those efforts and that progress to every community in the country."

"New Report Finds 23 of 25 States wWith Highest Rates of Obesity Are in the South and Midwest." Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Press Release 09/21/2015.