State Obesity Rates Are on the Rise

CDC Study Shows Obesity Rate Is 30% or Higher in 12 States

Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD on July 19, 2011
From the WebMD Archives

July 19, 2011 -- Despite a steady drumbeat of warnings that obesity causes serious health problems and increases the risk of premature death, it has become a problem in every state, the CDC says in a new report.

What is more, obesity prevalence was 30% or higher in 12 states in 2010, compared to nine states in 2009. In 2000, no states had obesity rates that high.

Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia all had obesity rates of 30% or higher in 2010.

Obesity rates vary by region, led by the South at 29.4%, followed by the Midwest at 28.7%, the Northeast at 24.9%, and the West at 24.1%, the CDC report says.

Mississippi had the nation's highest obesity prevalence at 34%, and Colorado the lowest at 21%.

Goals to Reduce Obesity Are Missed

According to the CDC, no state reported that less than 20% of adults were obese in 2010. That means not a single state met the national Healthy People 2010 goal to lower obesity prevalence to 15% by the end of the past decade.

The percentages are based on the most recent Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System phone survey that gathers information from 400,000 adults 18 and over.

CDC Director Thomas Frieden says in a news release that heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer are the leading causes of death related to obesity.

"It will take time and resources to win in the fight against obesity," William Dietz, director of CDC's division of nutrition, physical activity and obesity, says in the news release. "This epidemic is complex and we must continue to change the environments that make it hard to eat healthy and make it hard for people to be active."

By taking such steps, "we not only help today's adults, we also invest in our children and grandchildren, so they won't have to endure this serious and costly health burden," Dietz says.

The CDC says that obesity has increased dramatically in the past 20 years. Medical costs of obesity reached $147 billion in 2008.