The State of Obesity in


Adult Obesity in California

California now has the fifth lowest adult obesity rate in the nation, according to The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America. California's adult obesity rate is 24.1 percent, up from 21.5 percent in 2004 and from 9.9 percent in 1990. Rates increased in six states in the past year — Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, New Jersey, Tennessee and Wyoming.

Twenty states now have adult obesity rates at or above 30 percent, 43 states have rates of at least 25 percent, and every state is above 20 percent. In 1980, no state was above 15 percent; in 1991, no state was above 20 percent; in 2000, no state was above 25 percent; and, in 2007, only Mississippi was above 30 percent.

Tweet thisCurrent adult obesity rate (2013)


Rank among states (2013)


Adult obesity rate in California (1990-2013)

Obesity rate by gender (2012)

Men 26.2% Women 23.8%

Obesity rate by age (2013)

18-25 13.9% 26-44 25.5% 45-64 29.3% 65+ 21.5%

Obesity rate by race (2013)

White 22.4% Black 34.8% Latino 30.7%

Source: Trust for America's Health and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The State of Obesity 2014 [PDF]. Washington, D.C.: 2014.

Childhood Obesity in California

Signs of Progress on Childhood Obesity in California: A new report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in August, 2013 showed that 18 states, including California, and one U.S. territory experienced a decline in obesity rates among 2- to 4-year-olds from low-income families between 2008 and 2011. Over that period, California's rate fell from 17.3% to 16.8%, a statistically significant decrease according to the CDC analysis. Read more about the report at rwjf.org. Tweet this

2- to 4-year-olds from low-income families

Current obesity rate (2011)


Rank among states (2011)


Historical rates (1989-2011)

Source: stateofobesity.org/children24

10- to 17-year-olds

Current obesity rate (2011)


Rank among states (2011)


Historical rates (2004-2011)

Source: stateofobesity.org/children1017

High school students

Current obesity rate (2013)

no data

Rank among states (2013)

no data 

Historical rates (2003-2013)

Source: stateofobesity.org/high-school-obesity

Obesity-Related Health Issues in California


Current adult diabetes rate (2013)


Rank among states (2013)


Current diabetes cases (2010)


Projected cases of diabetes in 2030 at current pace


Historical adult diabetes rates (1990-2013)


Current adult hypertension rate (2013)


Rank among states (2013)


Current hypertension cases (2010)


Projected cases of hypertension in 2030 at current pace


Historical adult hypertension rates (1990-2013)

Heart Disease

Current heart disease cases (2010)


Projected cases of heart disease in 2030



Current arthritis cases (2010)


Projected cases of arthritis in 2030


Obesity-Related Cancer

Current cancer cases (2010)


Projected cases of cancer in 2030


Sources: Current diabetes (2013) and hypertension (2013) rates are from The State of Obesity 2014 [PDF]; 2010 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, arthritis and obesity-related cancer numbers and projected cases of obesity-related health problems related are from F as in Fat 2012 [PDF].

Public Policy in California Related to Obesity

Foods and BeveragesU.S.California

Nutritional Standards for Competitive Foods in Schools

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 required USDA to release new national standards for competitive foods in schools. USDA defines competitive foods as any food or beverage served or sold at school that is not part of the USDA school meals program. The interim final rule for Smart Snacks in School was released in June 2013 and becomes effective during the 2014 to 2015 school year. States with standards that are stronger than the new national standards will be able to retain those standards. A report by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Bridging the Gap found that 38 states have competitive food standards, but none of the states' laws fully met USDA's standards.

38 + D.C.YesView all states

Limits on Competitive Foods in Schools

Twenty-nine states and Washington, D.C. have laws that exceed current federal requirements for when and where competitive foods may be sold. More information about the specific laws in each state

29 + D.C.No

Farm-to-School Programs

All 50 states and Washington, D.C. have farm-to-school programs but only 35 states and Washington, D.C. have established mandatory programs. Farm-to-school programs have shown results in improving students' nutritional intake.

50 + D.C.YesView all states

Menu Labeling Laws

Four states and some local communities require larger chain food establishments to provide nutrition content on menus. The Affordable Care Act includes a provision that will require certain chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments nationwide to list calorie content information for certain items on menus. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to issue final standards in 2013. Many leading health organizations, including the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Heart Association, support menu labeling as an important health education tool to allow consumers to make informed choices.


Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Taxes

Thirty-four states and Washington, D.C., include soda among items for which they charge sales tax. A number of studies have shown that relative prices of foods and beverages can lead to changes in how much people consume them.

34 + D.C.YesView all states
Physical ActivityU.S.California

Physical Education Requirements

All 50 states and Washington, D.C. have some physical education requirements for students. However, these requirements are often limited or not enforced, and many programs are inadequate.

50 + D.C.YesView all states

Physical Activity Requirements

Many states have started enacting laws requiring schools to provide a certain number of minutes and/or a specified difficulty level of physical activity. Twenty-one specifically require schools to provide physical activity or recess during the school day.

21NoView all states

Shared Use Agreements

Twenty-eight states currently have laws supporting shared use of facilities. These agreements allow school districts, local governments and community-based organizations to overcome common concerns, costs and responsibilities that come along with opening school property to the public after hours.

28YesView all states

Safe Routes to Schools

All 50 states and Washington, D.C. operate Safe Routes to School (SRTS) programs — which benefit 13,000 schools nationwide — though implementation and funding support varies. SRTS supports improving sidewalks, bike paths and safe street crossings; reducing speeds in school zones and neighborhoods; addressing distracted driving; and educating people about pedestrian and bike safety.

50 + D.C.YesView all states

Complete Street Programs

Complete Streets policies encourage physical activity and green transportation, walking and cycling and building or protecting urban transport systems that are fuel-efficient, space-saving and promote healthy lifestyles. Twenty-eight states and Washington, D.C. have adopted Complete Streets policies.

28 + D.C.YesView all states
Health Assessments and Education in SchoolsU.S.California

Health Assessments and Screening

Twenty-one states currently have legislation that requires BMI screening or weight-related assessments other than BMI. BMI and other health assessments are intended to help schools and communities assess rates of childhood obesity, educate parents and students and serve as a means to evaluate obesity prevention and control programs in that school and community. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that BMI should be calculated and plotted annually for all youth as part of normal health supervision within the child's medical home, and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends annual school-based BMI screenings.

21YesView all states

Health Education Requirements

Only two states — Colorado and Oklahoma — do not require schools to provide health education. Health education curricula often include community health, consumer health, environmental health, family life, mental and emotional health, injury prevention and safety, nutrition, personal health, prevention and control of disease and substance use and abuse. The goal of school health education is to prevent premature deaths and disabilities by improving the health literacy of students.

48 + D.C.YesView all states
CDC State Grant ProgramsU.S.California

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) fund many state and local efforts to prevent and control obesity and related diseases.

State Public Health Actions: Enhanced Component

32YesView all states

School Health Grants

50 + D.C.YesView all states

REACH Grants

30YesView all states

Community Transformation Grants

40 + D.C.YesView all states

Source: Trust for America's Health and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The State of Obesity 2014 [PDF]. Washington, D.C.: 2014.