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Health Issues

Obesity

Health Consequences

Research has shown that as weight increases to reach the levels referred to as "overweight" and "obesity,"* the risks for the following conditions also increases:

  • Coronary heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon)
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Dyslipidemia (for example, high total cholesterol or high levels of triglycerides)
  • Stroke
  • Liver and Gallbladder disease
  • Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
  • Osteoarthritis (a degeneration of cartilage and its underlying bone within a joint)
  • Gynecological problems (abnormal menses, infertility)

*Overweight is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or higher; obesity is defined as a BMI of 30 or higher. For more, see Defining Obesity.

 

Trends in the United States

Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater. BMI is calculated from a person's weight and height and provides a reasonable indicator of body fatness and weight categories that may lead to health problems. Obesity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, and type 2 diabetes.

During the past 20 years there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States. In 2008, only one state (Colorado) had a prevalence of obesity less than 20%. Thirty-two states had a prevalence equal to or greater than 25%; six of these states (Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia) had a prevalence of obesity equal to or greater than 30%.

The animated map below shows the United States obesity prevalence from 1985 through 2008.

2008 State Obesity Rates

State

%

State

%

State

%

State

%

Alabama

31.4

Illinois

26.4

Montana

23.9

Rhode Island

21.5

Alaska

26.1

Indiana

26.3

Nebraska

26.6

South Carolina

30.1

Arizona

24.8

Iowa

26.0

Nevada

25.0

South Dakota

27.5

Arkansas

28.7

Kansas

27.4

New Hampshire

24.0

Tennessee

30.6

California

23.7

Kentucky

29.8

New Jersey

22.9

Texas

28.3

Colorado

18.5

Louisiana

28.3

New Mexico

25.2

Utah

22.5

Connecticut

21.0

Maine

25.2

New York

24.4

Vermont

22.7

Delaware

27.0

Maryland

26.0

North Carolina

29.0

Virginia

25.0

Washington DC

21.8

Massachusetts

20.9

North Dakota

27.1

Washington

25.4

Florida

24.4

Michigan

28.9

Ohio

28.7

West Virginia

31.2

Georgia

27.3

Minnesota

24.3

Oklahoma

30.3

Wisconsin

25.4

Hawaii

22.6

Mississippi

32.8

Oregon

24.2

Wyoming

24.6

Idaho

24.5

Missouri

28.5

Pennsylvania

27.7





The data shown in these maps were collected through the CDC's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). Each year, state health departments use standard procedures to collect data through a series of monthly telephone interviews with U.S. adults. Prevalence estimates generated for the maps may vary slightly from those generated for the states by the BRFSS as slightly different analytic methods are used.