Iowa and Oklahoma, the two newest states with prevalences at or exceeding 35%, joined Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and West Virginia, which has the country’s highest rate of adult obesity at 38.1%. Colorado’s 22.6% rate is the lowest prevalence among all states. The District of Columbia and Hawaii also have prevalences under 25%; previously, Massachusetts also was in this group, but its prevalence went up to 25.9% last year, the CDC reported.
Regional disparities in self-reported adult obesity put the South (32.4%) and the Midwest (32.3%) well ahead of the Northeast (27.7%) and the West (26.1%) in 2017. Racial and ethnic disparities also were seen, with large gaps between blacks, who had a prevalence of 39%, and Hispanics (32.4%) and whites (29.3%). Obesity prevalence was 35% or higher among black adults in 31 states and D.C., while this was true among Hispanics in eight states and among whites in one (West Virginia), although the prevalence was at or above 35% for multiple racial groups in some of these states, the CDC reported based on data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.
“Obesity costs the United States health care system over $147 billion a year [and] research has shown that obesity affects work productivity and military readiness,” the CDC said in a written statement. “To protect the health of the next generation, support for healthy behaviors such as healthy eating, better sleep, stress management, and physical activity should start early and expand to reach Americans across the lifespan in the communities where they live, learn, work, and play.”