F as in Forward?

A letter from Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Jeffrey Levi, PhD, executive director of the Trust for America's Health

In this year's F as in Fat, we can report that adult obesity rates remained level in almost every state. That's after three decades of increases. The rates, however, remain very high, putting Americans at risk for a range of health problems and adding a major burden to national healthcare costs. Read the full letter

Adult Obesity Rates Hold Steady But Remain High

Rates Top 30 Percent in 13 States; Highest in South, Midwest and Among Baby Boomers

After three decades of increases, adult obesity rates remained level in every state except for one, Arkansas, in the past year. Thirteen states now have adult obesity rates above 30 percent, 41 states have rates of at least 25 percent, and every state is above 20 percent, according to the report. For the first time in eight years, Mississippi no longer has the highest rate — Louisiana at 34.7 percent is the highest, followed closely by Mississippi at 34.6 percent. Colorado had the lowest rate at 20.5 percent.

Overview of key findings

View all the state rates and rankings

Interactive: Adult Obesity in the United States, 1990-2012

An interactive look at adult obesity rates from 1990 to 2012 for all fifty states and the District of Columbia

Explore adult obesity

Interactive: Adult Obesity Rate Cartogram

A unique view of increasing adult obesity rates in the United States between 1990 to 2012

View interactive cartogram

Signs of Progress on Childhood Obesity

Obesity Rates Among 2- to 4-year-olds from Low-Income Families Decrease in 18 States and One U.S. Territory

The Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance Survey (PedNSS), which examines children from the ages of 2 to 4 from low-income families, found that 14.4 percent of this group is obese, compared with 12.1 percent of all U.S. children of a similar age. The data for PedNSS is based on actual measurements rather than self-reported data. The prevalence of obesity among children from low-income families increased from 12.7 percent in 1999 to 14.4 percent in 2011. However, during 2008 to 2011, 18 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands had a statistically-significant decrease and only three states increased during this time.

Obesity rates among 2- to 4-year-olds from low income families

Interactive: Obesity Among 2- to 4-Year-Olds from Low-income Families, 1989-2011

An interactive look at obesity rates among 2 -to 4-year-olds from low-income families in all 50 states and the District of Columbia

View interactive data

Top Ten Highest Rates of Obesity Among 2- to 4-Year-Olds from Low-Income Families

California, Rhode Island and New Jersey have the highest rates of obese low-income 2- to 4-year-olds

View list

Data Snapshot

Adults

Highest Adult Obesity Rates (2012)

RankRate
1Louisiana34.7%
2Mississippi34.6%
3Arkansas34.5%
4West Virginia33.8%
5Alabama33.0%
6Oklahoma32.2%
7South Carolina31.6%
8Indiana31.4%
9Kentucky31.3%
10Michigan31.1%

Lowest Adult Obesity Rates (2012)

RankStateRate
51Colorado20.5%
50District of Columbia21.9%
49Massachusetts22.9%
47Hawaii23.6%
47New York23.6%
46Vermont23.7%
44Montana24.3%
44Utah24.3%
42New Jersey24.6%
42Wyoming24.6%

Highest Adult Diabetes Rates (2012)

RankStateRate
1West Virginia13.0%
2Mississippi12.5%
3Alabama12.3%
3Louisiana12.3%
5Tennessee11.9%
6Ohio11.7%
7South Carolina11.6%
8Oklahoma11.5%
9Florida11.4%
10Arkansas11.3%

Children & Adolescents

Obese Low-Income 2-4 yr-olds (2011)

RankRate
1California16.8%
2Rhode Island16.6%
2New Jersey16.6%
4Massachusetts16.4%
5Connecticut15.8%
6Kentucky15.5%
7North Carolina15.4%
8Maryland15.3%
9South Dakota15.2%
10Oregon14.9%

Obese High Schoolers (2011)

RankRate
Alabama17.0%
Oklahoma16.7%
Kentucky16.5%
Louisiana16.1%
Mississippi15.8%
Texas15.6%
Tennessee15.2%
Arkansas15.2%
Georgia15.0%
Ohio14.7%

Obese 10-17 year-olds (2011)

RankRate
Mississippi21.7%
South Carolina21.5%
District of Columbia21.4%
Louisiana21.1%
Tennessee20.5%
Arkansas20.0%
Arizona19.8%
Kentucky19.7%
Illinois19.3%
Texas19.1%

Obesity Policy Series

This year we're highlighting nine key policy approaches for preventing obesity, related health issues and associated costs

Obesity Policy Series: Cost Containment and Obesity Prevention

If obesity rates continue on their current trajectory, by 2030, combined medical costs associated with treating preventable obesity-related diseases are estimated to increase by between $48 billion and $66 billion per year.

Obesity Policy Series

Physical activity in and out of school provides a wide variety of health benefits for young people. Schools and communities can help kids get the 60 minutes of physical activity they need per day.

Obesity Policy Series: Healthy Affordable Foods

More than 29 million Americans lack access to healthy affordable foods, and families living in lower-income neighborhoods and in communities of color are particularly affected. Healthy Food Financing Initiatives can help make sure all families can buy healthier foods.

Obesity Policy Series: School Foods and Beverages

Research shows strong school nutrition policies can have a positive impact on children's health. USDA recently updated nutrition standards for all food and beverages sold and served in schools.

Obesity Policy Series: Menu Labeling

The trend of eating out at restaurants increased dramatically in the United States, and consumers routinely underestimate calories when they do. The FDA is expected to finalize national menu labeling standards soon to help consumers make informed choices about what they purchase.

Obesity Policy Series: Food Marketing

The food and beverage industry spends nearly $2 billion annually marketing mostly unhealthy products to American youths. Marketing restrictions could help improve the food and beverage industry's practices and reduce youths' exposure to unhealthy ads.

Obesity Policy Series: National Prevention Strategy, Prevention and Public Health Fund, and Community Transformation Grants

Three-quarters of every dollar spent on U.S. medical costs is used to treat chronic diseases and associated risk factors. By focusing on prevention, federal agencies can identify and develop reforms that can have a major impact on Americans' health.

Obesity Policy Series: Federal Active Transportation Policy and Obesity Prevention

Americans walk less than adults in any other industrialized country, and half of U.S. adults don't meet CDC recommendations for physical activity. Federal, state and local transportation policy has the potential to make it easier for all Americans to be active.

Obesity Policy Series: Obesity Prevention Inside and Outside the Doctor's Office

Americans cannot achieve health goals and effectively follow their doctor's advice without support in their neighborhoods, workplaces and schools. The Affordable Care Act provides new opportunities to expand coverage for proven community-based programs.

Share these facts about obesity

More than 25 million adults Americans have diabetes. Tweet this

Obesity rates for baby boomers have reached 40% in 2 states, and are 30%+ in 41 states. Tweet this

14.4% of 2- to 4-year-olds from low income families are obese. Tweet this