Obesity

Obesity is a complex health condition with biological, economic, environmental, individual and societal causes. Adults with obesity are at increased risk of developing serious health conditions such as hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

National and state findings

In 2018-2019, 30.0% of U.S. women ages 18-44 had a body mass index of 30.0 or higher, affecting roughly 14.7 million women. Obesity among women was highest in Mississippi (43.5%), Arkansas (42.4%) and Louisiana (39.4%); it was lowest in Colorado (21.1%) and Massachusetts (22.1%). Among children ages 10-17 in the U.S., nearly 32.1% — roughly 10.3 million — were overweight or obese for their age in 2019-2020. Overweight or obesity among youth was 1.8 times higher in West Virginia (41.2%) than in Utah (22.8%).
Between 2016-2017 and 2018-2019, the prevalence of obesity among women increased 9% nationally from 27.4%, a rise of roughly 1.1 million women ages 18-44. It also significantly increased 26% in New Mexico (27.9% to 35.2%), 19% in Utah (21.3% to 25.3%), 18% in New York (21.4% to 25.2%) and 13% in Kansas (30.8% to 34.8%). Since 2013-2014, the obesity rate among U.S. women ages 18-44 increased 16% from 25.9%.

Subpopulation findings

Among women, obesity rates varied by race and ethnicity, age, income and educational attainment in 2018-2019. Compared with Asian women, who had the lowest obesity rate at 8.6%, obesity was 3.2 times higher among white women (27.5%), the group with the second lowest rate, and 5.0 times higher among Black women (43.4%), the group with the highest rate. Obesity rates among women increased significantly with each increase in age group and income level. The rate of obesity among women ages 25-44 was lowest among college graduates (23.3%) compared with all other education groups.
Between 2016-2017 and 2018-2019, obesity rates increased in certain age, racial and ethnic, educational attainment and income groups: 13% among women ages 18-24 (18.0% to 20.4%), 10% among women ages 25-34 (29.0% to 32.0%) and 6% among women ages 35-44 (33.0% to 35.0%). Obesity rates rose 10% among Black (39.6% to 43.4%) and white (25.0% to 27.5%) women. Obesity rates rose 17% among women ages 25-44 who are college graduates (20.0% to 23.3%) and 11% among those with some college education (34.3% to 38.0%) and 18% among those with an annual household income of $75,000 or more (20.4% to 24.1%), 13% among those with an income of $50,000-$74,999 (29.5% to 33.2%) and 8% among those with an income less than $25,000 (40.3% to 43.5%).

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