Obese high school students in the U.S. in 2016-2017, by gender and ethnicity

Roughly 15 percent of U.S. high school students from grades 9 to 12, across all genders and ethnicities, were obese between 2016 and 2017. On average, African and Hispanic students struggled more with obesity than white students. Over 22 percent of male students with a Hispanic background were reported to be obese.

Prevalence among adults

Obesity is a growing problem among all age groups in the United States. Among American adults aged 20 and over, obesity rates have risen considerably since 1997. By 2018, roughly 12 percent more adults were obese, compared to 21 years earlier.

Fast food industry

Unhealthy ingredients, larger portions, and lower cost are some of the reasons why fast food easily leads to obesity in the United States. Between 2004 and 2018, U.S. consumer spending in quick-service restaurants has increased by approximately 37.5 percent. Examples of leading restaurant chains within this sector, in terms of company value, are McDonald’s, KFC, and Domino’s Pizza.

Percentage of U.S. high school students who were obese in 2016-2017, by gender and ethnicity

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Release date

June 2018


United States

Survey time period

September 2016 to December 2017

Number of respondents

14,956 respondents

Special properties

9–12 graders

Method of interview


Supplementary notes

* Obesity includes students who were more than 95th percentile for body mass index.
The survey was conducted at all regular public and private schools with students in at least one of grades 9–12 in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

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Statistics on "Obesity and overweight"

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