New study finds ‘significant disparities’ in prevalence among racial, ethnic groups
New data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveal a growing prevalence of obesity in more and more states.
In 2022, a total of 22 states reported that at least 35% of their adult population was obese, compared with 19 states in 2021. A decade ago, no state had recorded an adult obesity prevalence rate at or exceeding 35%, the CDC reported.
The findings, published September 21, were part of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a survey jointly administered by the CDC and state health departments. Adults were categorized as having obesity if their self-reported body mass index was at least 30, based on measurements of their height and weight.
The data show that the states with the highest obesity prevalence rates were Louisiana, Oklahoma, and West Virginia, where over 40% of the adult population was obese.
In terms of regional differences, the Midwest and the South exhibited the highest obesity prevalence rates, with approximately 36% of adults grappling with obesity in these regions in 2022. In the Northeast and West, the figures stood at around 30%.
The data also revealed what the CDC called "significant disparities" in obesity prevalence across racial and ethnic groups. At least 35% of Black adults had obesity in 38 states, and the same was true for American Indian adults in 33 states and Hispanic adults in 32 states. By contrast, obesity prevalence among white adults reached 35% in only 14 states, and nowhere among Asian adults.
Obesity rates were lowest among young adults, with roughly 1 in 5 individuals between the ages of 18 to 24 classified as obese. In contrast, among adults aged 45 to 54, the prevalence of obesity was approximately 2 in 5, according to the data. Furthermore, as the level of education increased, obesity prevalence exhibited a decline.
“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,” Karen Hacker, M.D., M.P.H., director of the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, said in a statement to CNN. “However, we know the key strategies that work include addressing the underlying social determinants of health such as access to health care, healthy and affordable food, and safe places for physical activity.”
Hacker added that the study is “a clear message that additional support for obesity prevention and treatment is an urgent priority.”