After decades of relatively stable rates of overweight and obesity among all ages of the U.S. population, the country began experiencing a dramatic shift around 1980.
Nothing better illustrates Americans’ seemingly inexorable weight gain than this series of color-coded maps based on statistics from the federal government’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. The first map shows that eight states reported rates of adult obesity between 10 percent and 14 percent in 1985—with no state heavier. But within a decade, more than half of the states reported adult obesity rates of 15 percent to 19 percent, and by 2007, the numbers had shifted even further, with at least 25 percent of adults now obese in 30 states.
Though these maps are based on adult data, a similar series reflecting historical and current rates of overweight and obesity among U.S. children and teens would show equally alarming changes.