Obesity prevalence among U.S. adults aged 20 and over 1997-2018

The prevalence of obesity in the United States has risen gradually over the past few decades. As of 2018, almost 32 percent of the population aged 20 years and older was obese. Obesity is a growing problem in many parts of the world but is particularly troubling in the United States.

Obesity in the United States

The states with the highest prevalence of obesity are West Virginia, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Iowa. As of 2018, a shocking 38 percent of the population in West Virginia were obese. Obesity is more prevalent among women than men and is least prevalent among those aged 20 to 39 years. The percentage of adults aged 65 years and older who are obese has grown in recent years, compounding health issues that develop with age.

Health impacts of obesity

Obesity is linked to several negative health impacts including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Unsurprisingly, the prevalence of diagnosed diabetes has increased in the United States over the years. As of 2017, around 9.4 percent of the population had been diagnosed with diabetes. Some of the most common types of cancers caused by obesity include breast cancer in postmenopausal women, colon and rectum cancer, and endometrium cancer.

Prevalence of obesity among adults aged 20 and over in the U.S. from 1997 to 2018

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Release date

May 2019


United States

Survey time period

1997 to 2018

Number of respondents

around 35,000 households

Age group

20 years and older

Method of interview

Face-to-face interview

Supplementary notes

Figures from 1997 to 2005 were taken from the previous year's report and can be found here.

Estimates are age-adjusted using the projected 2000 U.S. population as the standard population and seven age groups: 20–29, 30–39, 40–49, 50–59, 60–69, 70–79, and 80 and over. NOTES: Data are based on household interviews of a sample of the civilian noninstitutionalized population. Beginning with 2012 data, the National Health Interview Survey transitioned to weights derived from the 2010 census. For 2006–2011 data, weights were derived from the 2000 census.

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Statistics on "Obesity and overweight"

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