Percentage of adults aged 65 and older estimated to be obese with a body mass index (BMI) of 30.0 or higher



Obesity - Seniors

United States Obesity - Seniors (2013-2016) see more
  • Percentage of adults aged 65 and older estimated to be obese with a body mass index (BMI) of 30.0 or higher
Ranking Value State
1 14.1 Hawaii
2 20.5 Colorado
3 20.8 New Mexico
4 23.2 Florida
5 23.9 Tennessee
6 24.1 California
7 24.7 Arizona
7 24.7 Wyoming
9 25.1 Massachusetts
10 25.5 Vermont
11 25.9 Maine
11 25.9 North Carolina
13 26.1 Idaho
13 26.1 Rhode Island
15 26.4 Washington
16 26.7 Montana
16 26.7 South Dakota
18 26.9 Virginia
19 27.1 Oregon
19 27.1 South Carolina
21 27.2 Connecticut
22 27.3 New Jersey
22 27.3 New York
24 27.5 Kentucky
25 27.6 Nevada
26 27.9 Missouri
27 28.4 New Hampshire
27 28.4 Utah
29 28.5 Minnesota
30 28.6 Nebraska
31 28.7 Kansas
32 28.8 Mississippi
33 28.9 Alabama
33 28.9 Oklahoma
35 29 Maryland
36 29.2 Arkansas
37 29.5 Georgia
37 29.5 Pennsylvania
39 29.6 Alaska
40 29.9 North Dakota
41 30.2 Indiana
42 30.3 Wisconsin
43 30.5 Delaware
44 30.7 Texas
45 30.8 West Virginia
46 30.9 Iowa
47 31 Illinois
48 32 Louisiana
49 32.7 Michigan
50 33.4 Ohio


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Obesity - Seniors
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Obesity - Seniors
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Obesity - Seniors
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Obesity - Seniors


Obesity is the percentage of the population aged 65 and older estimated to be obese with a body mass index (BMI) of 30.0 or higher. BMI, defined by CDC, equals weight in pounds divided by height in inches squared and then multiplied by 703. The CDC has a calculator for BMI. The senior ranks are based on self-reported weight and height data from CDC’s 2014 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

The prevalence of obesity among adults aged 65 and older varies from 14.1% (95% CI, 12.1% to 16.2%) in Hawaii to more than 32% in Louisiana, Michigan and Ohio. Nationally, the percentage of seniors who are obese is 27.5%.


A systematic review comparing measured height and weight with self-reported height and weight found that self-report respondents tend to overestimate height and underestimate weight.[1] The prevalence rates presented are likely an underestimation of the true prevalence of obesity among older adults.

Obesity is one of the greatest health threats in the United States, contributing significantly to such serious diseases as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, certain cancers, and poor general health.[2] Obesity may also lead to disability due to excess weight on joints, and it is associated with shrinkage of the hippocampus[3]; this shrinkage contributes to cognitive decline in older adults. Obese seniors experience more hospitalizations, emergency room visits, and use of outpatient health services than non-obese seniors[4], leading to higher health care costs.

Obesity is a leading cause of preventable death, causing an estimated 200,000 deaths annually in the United States.[5] Between 1986 and 2006, the estimated percentage of adult deaths associated with overweight and obesity was 5.0% and 15.6% for black and white men, respectively and 26.8% and 21.7% for black and white women, respectively.[6]

The direct medical costs for treating obesity and obesity-related health problems are extremely high. An estimated $147 billion was spent on obesity or obesity-related health issues in 2008.[7] Obesity is more prevalent than smoking and is highly associated with chronic conditions and overall poor physical health, similar to smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.[8]

The causes of obesity are complex and include lifestyle, social and physical environment, genetics, and medical history. Older adults are more likely to have the poor diet and decreased physical activity that contribute to obesity.[9] Since the 1980s energy intake has climbed and energy expenditure has declined, leading to a growing imbalance that closely mirrors obesity rates.[10] Growing evidence illustrates the importance of the built environment and community design in promoting a healthy lifestyle.[11],[12]

While obesity is associated with an increased risk of developing the above-mentioned health conditions, weight loss is associated with attenuating that risk.[13] Successful interventions target a variety of populations through an assortment of strategies, from school-based prevention programs to programs for aging adults.[14],[15] Physical activity, healthy diet, supportive communities and social networks, and an environment that encourages exercise all play a role in reducing obesity in older adults. The CDC has useful resources for community-level interventions designed to lower obesity rates.

[1] Gorber SC, Tremblay M, Moher D, Gorber B. A comparison of direct vs. self-report measures for assessing height, weight and body mass index: A systematic review. Obesity Reviews. 2007;8(4):307-326.

[2] Overweight and obesity. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site. Updated May 24, 2012. Accessed July 24, 2012.

[3] Cherbuin C,Sargent-Cox K, Fraser M, Sachdev PS, Anstey, KJ. Obesity and being overweight is associated with hippocampal atrophy: the path through life study; Neuroscience 2014. Abstract 19.04.

[4]Suehs B, Kamble P, Huang J, Hammer M, Stevenin B, Bouchard J et al. Impact of obesity on healthcare resource utilization among Medicare advantage members enrolled in a large U.S. health benefits organization. Poster Board THR-569. ENDO 2015.

[5] Danaei G. The preventable causes of death in the United States: Comparative risk assessment of dietary, lifestyle, and metabolic risk factors. PLoS Medicine. 2009;6(4).

[6] Masters RK, Reither EN, Powers DA, Yang YC, Burger AE, Link BG. The impact of obesity on US mortality levels: the importance of age and cohort factors in population estimates. Am J Public Health. 2013;103(10):1895-1901.

[7] Finkelstein EA, Trogdon JG, Cohen JW, Dietz W. Annual medical spending attributable to obesity: Payer- and service-specific estimates. Health Affairs. 2009;28(5): w822-w831.

[8] Sturm R. Does obesity contribute as much to morbidity as poverty or smoking? Public Health. 2001;115(3):229.

[9] Elsaway B, Higgins KE. Physical activity guidelines for older adults. Am Fam Physician. 2010; Jan 1; 81(1):55-59.

[10] Finkelstein EA. Economic causes and consequences of obesity. Annu Rev Public Health. 2005;26(1):239.

[11] Papas MA. The built environment and obesity. Epidemiol Rev. 2007;29(1):129.                                                                                                                  

[12] King AC, Sallis JF, Frank LD, et al. Aging in neighborhoods differing in walkability and income: associations with physical activity and obesity in older adults. Soc Sci Med. 2011;73(10):1525-1533.

[13] Malnick SDH. The medical complications of obesity. QJM. 2006;99(9):565.

[14] Shaya FT. School-based obesity interventions: A literature review. J Sch Health. 2008;78(4):189.                                                                                                                  

[15] McTigue KM. Obesity in older adults: A systematic review of the evidence for diagnosis and treatment. Obesity. 2006;14(9):1485.