Obesity – A Significant Health Concern

Author: Darshan Patel, MD Weight loss Jan 19, 2024 2   min read

Obesity is a significant health concern in the United States, affecting millions of people across various demographics. Understanding the prevalence of obesity among different racial, ethnic, educational, and income groups can help in creating targeted health interventions and policies. Here’s an overview tailored for patients, highlighting these differences with numbers and references for further reading.

Obesity Prevalence in the United States

  • Overall Rates: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the prevalence of obesity in the U.S. was about 42.4% in 2017-2018.

Image Curtesy: CDC.gov

Racial and Ethnic Differences

  • African Americans: African American adults have one of the highest rates of obesity, with approximately 49.6% being obese.
  • Hispanics: Obesity affects about 44.8% of Hispanic adults.
  • Non-Hispanic Whites: The prevalence in this group is lower, at around 42.2%.
  • Asian Americans: This group has the lowest prevalence, with about 17.4% of Asian American adults being obese.

Image Curtesy: CDC.gov

Educational Background

  • Less Education: Adults without a high school degree or equivalent have higher obesity rates (36.2%) compared to those with higher education.
  • College Graduates: Those with a college degree have lower obesity rates, around 22.7%.

Income Differences

  • Low-Income Groups: There’s a higher prevalence of obesity among adults living in low-income households.
  • High-Income Groups: Higher-income adults tend to have lower obesity rates.

Age and Gender Considerations

  • Age Factors: Obesity prevalence increases with age and then decreases slightly in older adults (over 60 years).
  • Gender Differences: Women have slightly higher obesity rates than men across most age groups.

State-by-State Variation

  • Geographic Variation: There’s considerable variation in obesity prevalence by state. States like Mississippi and West Virginia have higher rates (over 35%), while Colorado and Hawaii have lower rates (around 20%).

Trends Over Time

Increasing Trend: Obesity rates in the U.S. have been steadily increasing over the past decades across all demographic groups.

Conclusion and References

This overview highlights the significant differences in obesity prevalence across various demographics in the U.S. It’s important to note that these numbers are constantly changing and can be influenced by a range of factors including lifestyle, environment, genetic predisposition, and socio-economic status.

For detailed and up-to-date information, you can refer to resources like the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), and various academic journals that publish research on obesity trends.


1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): [CDC Obesity Data]

2. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES): [NHANES Survey Data]

3. Trust for America’s Health: [State of Obesity Report]

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