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New Data Compares Adult Obesity Rates Across States

Man biking on path near greenery
Man biking on path near greenery


September 18th, 2020


Adult obesity rates vary significantly across states, according to data published today in the State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America, a new report from Trust for America’s Health (TFAH). The 2019 data cover state-by-state adult obesity rates, and include statistics on physical inactivity as well as obesity-related health risks such as diabetes and hypertension.

According to the new data, Mississippi has the highest adult obesity rate in the U.S. at 40.8%; Colorado and DC are tied for the lowest at 23.8%. Twelve states have adult obesity rates above 35%: Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia. As recently as 2012, no state had an adult obesity rate over 35%.

Florida was the only state to see its rates significantly decrease from 2018 to 2019. Michigan and Pennsylvania, in contrast, saw their rates go up. The new data come from the Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance System of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Obesity can lead to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. Mississippi, which has the highest rate of obesity in the U.S., has the second highest percentage of adults with diabetes and hypertension. Colorado has the lowest percentage of adults with diabetes. The state is also tied with DC for the lowest percentage of adults with hypertension.

In its report, TFAH notes that obesity can increase the risk for severe consequences from COVID-19, and makes a wide range of policy recommendations to address the obesity epidemic.

"The U.S. adult obesity rate passed 40%--the highest ever recorded--and the national adult obesity rate has increased by 26% since 2008."

According to State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America released by the Trust for America’s Health