Obesity Prevalence Rises in 22 States, CDC Reports

ObesityImage by Michal Jarmoluk

New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveal that the prevalence of adult obesity has risen in 22 states in 2022, a significant increase from 19 states in 2021. A decade ago, no state reported an adult obesity prevalence at or above 35%.

The 2022 Adult Obesity Prevalence Maps underscore the urgency of population-based interventions. These interventions aim to ensure universal access to healthy foods, safe environments for physical activity, stigma-free obesity prevention and treatment programs, and evidence-based health care services such as medication and surgery.

States with High Obesity Prevalence

The 22 states where adult obesity prevalence at or above 35% include Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Obesity Impact Varies Across Groups

The 2022 maps also highlight that obesity disproportionately impacts certain groups. Notable differences are seen across race and ethnicity, based on combined data from 2020–2022. Among geographic groups with sufficient data, the number with an adult obesity prevalence of 35% or higher, by race/ethnicity, includes:

  • American Indian or Alaska Native adults: 33 (among 47 states)
  • Asian adults: 0 (among 37 states, 1 territory, and DC)
  • Black adults: 38 (among 48 states and DC)
  • Hispanic adults: 32 (among 49 states, 2 territories, and DC)
  • White adults: 14 (among 49 states, 1 territory, and DC)

These figures are based on self-reported height and weight data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

Health Risks Associated with Obesity

Adults with obesity are at an increased risk for many serious health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, severe outcomes from COVID-19, and poor mental health. Moreover, people with obesity often report experiencing weight-related stigma.

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A Call for Comprehensive Support

To combat the rise in obesity, concerted efforts from federal, state, and local governments; communities; providers; and public health partners are needed to provide comprehensive support for obesity prevention and treatment.

The CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity implements proven strategies to improve health, prevent chronic diseases, support optimal early life growth and development, and reduce health disparities among racial and ethnic populations with the highest risk of chronic disease.

Karen Hacker, MD, MPH, director of CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, emphasized the urgency of addressing this issue: “Our updated maps send a clear message that additional support for obesity prevention and treatment is an urgent priority. Obesity is a disease caused by many factors, including eating patterns, physical activity levels, sleep routines, genetics, and certain medications. This means that there is no one size fits all approach. However, we know the key strategies that work include addressing the underlying social determinants of health such as access to healthcare, healthy and affordable food, and safe places for physical activity.”

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