Nearly One in Six Young People Has Obesity
October 2018 – Nationwide, 15.8 percent of young people ages 10 to 17 have obesity, according to the newest national data. Mississippi has the highest youth obesity rate, at 26.1 percent, while Utah has the lowest, at 8.7 percent.
The new research brief provides the latest national and state-by-state data, including differences by sex and by race and ethnicity.
Deeper Dive on New Youth Data
The Health Resources and Services Administration’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau (HRSA MCHB) funds and directs the annual National Survey of Children’s Health, which includes the new national and state-by-state obesity rate data for youth ages 10 to 17. We asked a few questions to Dr. Lydie Lebrun-Harris, a senior social scientist in the Office of Epidemiology and Research at HRSA MCHB about what the new data tell us.
The State of Childhood Obesity
The federal government monitors obesity rates among children and teens with major surveys that track national trends and state rates. According to NHANES (the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey), 18.5% of youth ages 2 to 19 had obesity in 2015-16, the highest rate ever documented by the survey.
In 2017, 14.8% of high school students had obesity, according to the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System.
In 2016-17, 15.8% of youth ages 10 to 17 had obesity, according to the National Survey of Children’s Health.
In 2014, 14.5% of 2- to 4-year-olds enrolled in WIC had obesity in 2014, down from 15.9% in 2010.
Adult Obesity Rates Rise in Six States, Top 35% in Seven
September 2018 – Adult obesity rates increased in Iowa, Massachusetts, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and South Carolina between 2016 and 2017, and remained stable in the rest of states. The adult obesity rate was at or above 35% in seven states and at least 30% in 29 states. West Virginia has the highest adult obesity rate at 38.1% and Colorado has the lowest at 22.6%.
The annual State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America report provides the latest data on obesity and related health conditions, as well as 40 policy and practice recommendations from Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
West Virginia has the highest rate of adult diabetes, 15.2%. Diabetes rates rose in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Jersey and South Dakota between 2016 and 2017.
Eight of the 10 states with the highest rates of hypertension are in the South. West Virginia has the highest rate at 43.5%.
Kentucky has the highest rate of physical inactivity among adults, 34.4%. Nine of the 10 states with the highest rates are in the South.
Updated: September 2018
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is the nation’s largest nutrition assistance program, helping feed more than 40 million Americans each month. Learn more about the critical support SNAP provides to families and individuals across the country, including firsthand accounts from program participants in Michigan, Kansas, Alabama, Texas, Washington state and more.
The Time To Invest Is Now
John Auerbach, president and CEO of Trust for America’s Health, comments on the newly released adult obesity rate data and shares a vision for how to address this complex challenge. He notes that policies and programs that align efforts across sectors can work to prevent and reduce obesity. What needs to be done now is to implement those efforts in more communities, particularly the communities hardest hit by the obesity crisis.
Priorities for Action
The annual State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America report includes 40 recommendations that leaders—from federal and state policymakers to food and beverage companies and the health care sector—could act on to help prevent and reduce obesity.
Obesity and Related Conditions
Obesity Rates and Trends Overview
Find the latest data and trends on childhood and adult obesity from major surveys that track rates at the national and state level, including the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, the National Survey of Children’s Health, the WIC Participant and Program Characteristics, and the Youth Risk Behavior Survey.
Priority Obesity-Prevention Policies
Strong policies can play a key role in addressing America’s obesity epidemic. Learn about national policy efforts to improve access to healthy foods, support physical activity and more.
This interactive feature tracks the status of each state’s efforts on more than 20 policies aimed at preventing obesity and supporting health in early childhood, schools and communities.
In 2015-2016, nearly 40% of U.S. adults had obesity, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
In 2015-2016, 18.5% of U.S. children ages 2 to 19 had obesity, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
West Virginia has the highest adult obesity rate at 38.1%, according to the 2017 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.