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U.S. Obesity Rates

Obesity rates in the United States are rising – there’s no question about that – and for years have been higher than other countries.  Latest statistics show that over 35% of American adults are obese and almost 20% of American children are obese.  Mexico and the United Kingdom are a distant second – closer to 25% of adults are obese in both countries – and Japan, with a lowly 3.2%, is number 28 on the list.  The weighted average of the top 28 states is over 14%, but still far lower than the United States average.

On average in the U.S., minorities seem to have higher rates of obesity, with the exception of Asians, who were significantly lower than all other people groups.  White Americans show lower obesity rates than all other groups except Asians.  Another trend indicates that education and poverty levels seem to have an impact on obesity.  Adults who make less than $15,000 a year have obesity rates of about 10% higher than adults who make over $50,000 in the United States.  Adults who failed to graduate high school have obesity rates of 12% higher than adults who graduated college.

State by state, results tend to vary, with a higher prevalence of obesity in the south and Midwest and lower obesity rates in the coastal areas.  Colorado has been the state with the lowest obesity rate for over 15 years, and until recently was the only state with less than 20% obesity (latest studies show about 21%).  Mississippi has the highest total obesity rate of about 34%.

Aside from Colorado, Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Washington D.C., Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Utah, and Vermont are the only states with obesity rates below 25%, with each of them ranging from 22-25%.

The next highest grouping, between 25% and 30% includes the states of Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

The final and highest group includes those states above 30%, which includes Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia.  Mississippi, West Virginia, and Alabama have the distinction of having the highest obesity rates with each of them between 32 and 35%.

Researchers have noted that the state with the lowest current rate, Colorado, has a higher percentage of obesity than the state with the highest rate did 15 years ago.  This seems to be pretty alarming news for the United States.  There’s no doubt that the rise of fast food restaurants has played a huge part in the increases in obesity in the United States.  In addition to the types of foods that most Americans consume, there has also been a lot of debate about the amounts of foods that Americans eat.  Meal portion sizes are higher on average in American than in almost any other country.

However, there has been a pretty strong push towards a healthier lifestyle in recent years.  The media is promoting better eating and many restaurants are focusing on offering more healthy choices in their menus.  Supermarkets are carrying more and more organic foods and offering better choices for eating.  Though the modern trend should give us hope, it hasn’t so far lowered obesity rates in any American states.  IT seems that there is still a lot of work to be done.


Karl Stockton writes on behalf of Visit them in the future to learn about their world-class detox and recovery programs.