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Obesity Statistics: The Scale of the Problem and Its Consequences

The numbers alone tell the story well enough – America’s got a big problem with obesity, and for those afflicted (and if you combine those who are overweight and those who are obese…that’s about two thirds of us) the consequences are felt through increased health care costs, a potential decrease in quality of life and a substantially elevated risk of an early death.

Obesity Statistics

  • Mississippi is the nation’s heaviest state, with a 34% obesity rate, closely followed by West Virginia (32.5%), Alabama (32.2%) and South Carolina (31.5%). Colorado is the country’s least obese state, with a still substantial 21% obesity rate. 1
  • 72.3% of American men and 64.1% of American women are either overweight or obese
  • 16.9% of American children and adolescents are obese2


  • Only 31.6% of all American adults over the age of 20 are at a healthy weight, with a BMI score between 18.5 and 25.
  • From 1960-1992 to 2005-2006 American obesity rates nearly tripled, from 13.4% in the 60s to 35.1% in 2005
  • Non Hispanic Black women are the racial/ethnic group with the highest obesity rate, at 49.6%. Asian Americans are the least obese ethnic/racial group, with an obesity rate of only 8.9%
  • In America, an obese person pays an average of $1429.00 more per year for health care expenses than a person of healthy weight.
  • Only 31% of American adults report participating in regular leisure time physical activity3
  • Among women, obesity rates decline as personal income rises. Women with a college education are also less likely to be obese than women with some college only or a high school diploma.4
  • People who are obese are between 50% and 100% more likely to die a premature death. The Surgeon General estimates than an annual 300 000 American deaths may be obesity caused.
  • Obese people are twice as likely to have high blood pressure and over 80% of people with diabetes are either overweight or obese.

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