Obesity is becoming more common in a growing number of states, according to new data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In 2022, 22 states had at least 35% of adults with obesity, up from 19 states in 2021. Ten years ago, CDC said, no state had an adult obesity prevalence at or above 35%.
The new data show prevalence was highest in Louisiana, Oklahoma and West Virginia, where more than 40% of adults had obesity.
Overall, prevalence was highest in the Midwest and the South, where about 36% of adults had obesity. In the Northeast and West, about 30% of adults had obesity in 2022.
The data is from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a survey conducted by the CDC and state health departments. Adults were considered to have obesity if their body mass index was at least 30, based on self-reported measurements of height and weight.
The new data, published Thursday, found “notable differences” in obesity prevalence by race and ethnicity.
At least 35% of Black adults had obesity in 38 states, and the same was true for American Indian adults in 33 states and Hispanic adults in 32 states. Obesity rates among Asian adults did not exceed 35% in any state, and only 14 states reached that metric for White adults.
Obesity rates were lowest among young adults, with about 1 in 5 people ages 18 to 24 considered to have obesity. Rates were about twice as high among adults 45 to 54, with a prevalence of about 2 in 5, according to the CDC data. Obesity prevalence also decreased as level of education increased.
“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,” Dr. Karen Hacker, director of the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, said in a statement.
“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.”
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