Adult Obesity Rates Top 30% in Half of States

Obesity still plagues millions of Americans, as rates remain high in most states, a new report finds. The South and Midwest have the highest adult obesity rates, making up 23 of the 25 states with rates now topping 30 percent. In 42 states, blacks have obesity rates of 30 percent or more, as do Hispanics in 30 states.  Obesity rates of 30 percent or more among whites are found in 13 states, the findings showed. The obesity epidemic is one of the nation's most serious health crises


Success requires finding ways to make healthy choices easier in our daily lives. Children need the chance to grow up at a healthy weight, and all adults need the opportunity to be as healthy as they can be, no matter what their weight. On the plus side, obesity rates have remained the same in all but five states.

Although the obesity rate has not dropped in any state, he sees the leveling off as a hopeful sign. This as a sign of progress, and the efforts made to help curb the epidemic over the past few years are having an impact and are evidence that if we invest in effective programs, we can make a difference

In 2014, obesity rates increased in Kansas, Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio and Utah The highest obesity rate was posted in Arkansas, at 35.9 percent. Colorado had the lowest rate, at 21.3 percent.

In three states -- Arkansas, Mississippi and West Virginia -- the obesity rate was greater than 35 percent. The obesity rate was at or above 30 percent in 22 states and was not below 21 percent in any state

In contrast, no state's obesity rate was above 15 percent in 1980 and no state had a rate above 20 percent in 1991. Now, more than 30 percent of adults, nearly 17 percent of 2- to 19-year-olds and more than 8 percent of children aged 2 to 5 are obese.

As a consequence, nearly 78 million Americans are at increased risk for a variety of obesity-related health problems, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer. Prevention is crucial to ending the obesity epidemic. It is easier and more effective to prevent obesity than it is to reverse trends later.  This means promoting good nutrition and physical activity at an early age, so that kids start school at a healthy weight and stay that way as they age.

Small changes that make it easier to afford to buy healthy foods and beverages and be physically active can lead to big differences. Programs that can be effective include improving school meals, making streets safe for walking and increasing preventive health services.

Other findings from the report include:

  1. Among states with the highest rates of type 2 diabetes, nine of the 10 are in the South.
  2. Rates of diabetes have increased in eight states: Colorado, Hawaii, Kansas, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
  3. Racial groups with the highest obesity rates include American Indians and Alaska Natives, at 54 percent.