The State of Obesity

Better Policies for a Healthier America

The State of Obesity 2014

Executive Summary: After decades of rising obesity rates among adults, the pace of increase is beginning to slow, but rates remain high. This report reveals that adult obesity rates increased in six states in the past year and remained high overall. 

The Issue: There is increasing evidence that obesity rates are stabilizing for adults and children—but the rates remain high, putting millions of Americans at risk for increased health problems.

Key Findings

  • Race and Ethnicity: Obesity rates remain higher among blacks and Latinos than among whites. Rates among blacks topped 40 percent in 11 states; rates among Latinos exceeded 35 percent in 5 states; for whites, 10 states had rates over 30 percent.

  • Socioeconomic Status: More than 33 percent of adults 18 and older who earn less than $15,000 per year are obese, compared with 25.4 percent who earn at least $50,000 per year.

  • Geography: 9 out of the 10 states with the highest obesity rates are in the South.

  • Age: Baby Boomers (45-to 64-year-olds) have the highest obesity rates of any age group – topping 35 percent in 17 states.

  • Severity: More than 6 percent of adults are severely** obese; the number of severely obese adults has quadrupled in the past 30 years. 

Conclusion: Adult obesity rates remain far too high overall, and racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities persist. Rates among children and teens have stabilized in the past decade, and are beginning to decline in some places and among some age groups. But this progress is still early and fragile, so this report serves as an urgent call to action for our nation to build a strong, vibrant Culture of Health that provides everyone in America with the opportunity to maintain a healthy weight and live a healthy life. 

About the Study: The State of Obesity, formerly known as F as in Fat, is the 11th annual report produced by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Trust for America’s Health. The analysis in this report is based on data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

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