New population data from 2022, released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has shed light on the growing issue of obesity in the United States. The data shows that 22 states now have an adult obesity prevalence at or above 35%, compared to 19 states in 2021. A decade ago, no state had reached this alarming threshold.
The 22 states with adult obesity rates at or above 35% are Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
The 2022 Adult Obesity Prevalence Maps also reveal disparities among various racial and ethnic groups. According to data spanning 2020–2022:
- American Indian or Alaska Native adults had an obesity prevalence of 35% or higher in 33 out of 47 states.
- Asian adults had no states with obesity prevalence at or above 35% out of 37 states, one territory, and the District of Columbia.
- Black adults reached or exceeded the 35% threshold in 38 out of 48 states and the District of Columbia.
- Hispanic adults experienced obesity rates of 35% or higher in 32 out of 49 states, two territories, and the District of Columbia.
- White adults exceeded the 35% threshold in 14 out of 49 states, one territory, and the District of Columbia.
The data is derived from self-reported height and weight information collected through the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. This increase in obesity prevalence raises concerns, as adults with obesity are at a higher risk for numerous severe health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, severe outcomes from COVID-19, and poor mental health. Additionally, individuals with obesity often face social stigma due to their weight.
Addressing this issue requires a collaborative effort at various levels, involving federal, state, and local governments, communities, healthcare providers, and public health partners. To combat obesity effectively, comprehensive support for prevention and treatment is crucial.
“Our updated maps send a clear message that additional support for obesity prevention and treatment is an urgent priority. Obesity is a disease caused by many factors, including eating patterns, physical activity levels, sleep routines, genetics, and certain medications. This means that there is no one size fits all approach. However, we know the key strategies that work include addressing the underlying social determinants of health such as access to healthcare, healthy and affordable food, and safe places for physical activity.”, said Karen Hacker, MD, MPH, director of CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
The CDC's Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity is committed to implementing proven strategies to enhance health, prevent chronic diseases, and reduce health disparities among the most vulnerable populations. These strategies encompass guidelines for food services, initiatives such as fruit and vegetable vouchers and produce prescriptions, safe and accessible physical activity programs, and measures to support early life growth and development.