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Obesity - Ages 65+
Obesity - Ages 65+ in United States
United States

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Obesity - Ages 65+ in depth:

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Obesity - Ages 65+ by State

Percentage of adults ages 65 and older with a body mass index of 30.0 or higher based on reported height and weight

Obesity - Ages 65+ Trends

Percentage of adults ages 65 and older with a body mass index of 30.0 or higher based on reported height and weight

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Obesity - Ages 65+

About Obesity - Ages 65+

US Value: 29.5%

Top State(s): Hawaii: 16.5%

Bottom State(s): West Virginia: 35.9%

Definition: Percentage of adults ages 65 and older with a body mass index of 30.0 or higher based on reported height and weight

Data Source and Years: CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2021

Suggested Citation: America's Health Rankings analysis of CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, United Health Foundation,, accessed 2023.

Adults with obesity are at increased risk of developing serious health conditions, such as hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, sleep apnea and breathing problems, osteoarthritis, certain cancers, and mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. Research suggests that the strength of the association between obesity and mortality risk increases with age, making obesity among older adults an area of particular concern.

Contributing factors for obesity include behaviors such as poor diet and physical inactivity, certain health conditions, genetic predisposition and environmental elements like neighborhood safety, food access and infrastructure.

The estimated health care costs of obesity in the United States were $172.74 billion in 2019. Beyond direct medical costs, the indirect costs of decreased productivity tied to obesity are estimated at an additional $8.65 billion per year.

The prevalence of obesity is higher among:

  • Older Hispanic, Black, American Indian/Alaska Native and white adults compared with older Asian adults.
  • Older adults with less than a high school education compared with college graduates.
  • Older adults with an annual household income of less than $25,000 compared with those with annual household incomes of $75,000 or more.
  • Older adults living in non-metropolitan areas compared with those in metropolitan areas.

Key strategies for decreasing and preventing obesity target individual behaviors as well as environmental factors. Successful interventions include:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides further useful resources for community-level interventions and healthy living tips designed to prevent obesity.

Healthy People 2030 includes several weight-related goals, including reducing the overall proportion of adults with obesity and increasing the proportion of health care visits by adults with obesity that include counseling on weight loss, nutrition or physical activity.

Andreyeva, Tatiana, Joerg Luedicke, and Y. Claire Wang. “State-Level Estimates of Obesity-Attributable Costs of Absenteeism.” Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 56, no. 11 (November 2014): 1120–27.

Bales, Connie W., and Kathryn N. Porter Starr. “Obesity Interventions for Older Adults: Diet as a Determinant of Physical Function.” Advances in Nutrition 9, no. 2 (March 1, 2018): 151–59.

Batsis, John A., and Alexandra B. Zagaria. “Addressing Obesity in Aging Patients.” Medical Clinics of North America 102, no. 1 (January 2018): 65–85.

Biener, Adam, John Cawley, and Chad Meyerhoefer. “The High and Rising Costs of Obesity to the US Health Care System.” Journal of General Internal Medicine 32, no. S1 (April 2017): 6–8.

Gill, Lydia E., Stephen J. Bartels, and John A. Batsis. “Weight Management in Older Adults.” Current Obesity Reports 4, no. 3 (September 2015): 379–88.

Luppino, Floriana S., Leonore M. de Wit, Paul F. Bouvy, Theo Stijnen, Pim Cuijpers, Brenda W. J. H. Penninx, and Frans G. Zitman. “Overweight, Obesity, and Depression: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Longitudinal Studies.” Archives of General Psychiatry 67, no. 3 (March 1, 2010): 220–29.

Masters, Ryan K., Daniel A. Powers, and Bruce G. Link. “Obesity and US Mortality Risk Over the Adult Life Course.” American Journal of Epidemiology 177, no. 5 (February 3, 2013): 431–42.

Papas, Mia A., Anthony J. Alberg, Reid Ewing, Kathy J. Helzlsouer, Tiffany L. Gary, and Ann C. Klassen. “The Built Environment and Obesity.” Epidemiologic Reviews 29 (2007): 129–43.

Steele, C. Brooke, Cheryll C. Thomas, S. Jane Henley, Greta M. Massetti, Deborah A. Galuska, Tanya Agurs-Collins, Mary Puckett, and Lisa C. Richardson. “Vital Signs: Trends in Incidence of Cancers Associated with Overweight and Obesity — United States, 2005–2014.” MMWR. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 66, no. 39 (October 3, 2017): 1052–58.

U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of and Health and Human Services. “Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025.” Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, December 2020.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition.” Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2018.

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