Obesity in the United States - Statistics & Facts

Obesity and weight issues are well-known problems in modern societies worldwide. In the United States this problem is severe, with an extremely high prevalence of obesity among both males and females. This issue is often related to the American lifestyle, in which fast food and large serving sizes are common. Differences in the obesity rate in the U.S. can be seen between different ethnic groups, regions, genders, and ages. As of 2020, around 42 percent of all African American adults were classed as being obese, compared to 36 percent of Hispanics and just 13 percent of Asian/Pacific Islanders. That same year, Mississippi was reported to have the highest share of its population that was obese among all U.S. states, with an incredible 40 percent of adults in Mississippi self-reporting that they are obese. The least obese states include Colorado, Massachusetts and Hawaii.

Obesity among children and adolescents

Overweight and obesity are also increasing problems for youths in the United States. In 1971-1974, only about five percent of males aged 2 to 19 years in the United States were obese, but this number had reached almost 21 percent by the years 2017-2018. Rates of obesity among female children and adolescents are lower than those among males, but still almost 18 percent of females aged 2 to 19 years were obese in 2017-2018. In 2019, the state with the highest percentage of obese high school students was Mississippi, followed closely by West Virginia and Arkansas.

The health impacts of obesity

Being overweight and obese can cause a number of health problems and can increase the risk of a variety of diseases including diabetes and heart disease. The prevalence of diabetes has increased steadily in the United States since the late 1980's, with an estimated 14 percent of the population living with diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes. Athough the death rate from heart disease has actually decreased gradually since the 1950's, heart disease still remains the leading cause of death in the United States. Unsurprisingly, some of the states with the highest rates of death from heart disease are also those with the highest rates of obesity. It is important to remember that it is never too late to lose weight and therefore decrease the risk of associated disease. Becoming overweight or obese can be avoided through healthy eating and exercise, but such measures are largely lifestyle choices. In 2017-2020, an estimated 25.3 percent of the U.S. population was physically inactive.

Interesting statistics

In the following 4 chapters, you will quickly find the 36 most important statistics relating to "Obesity in the United States".


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