Obesity in the United States Statistics

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Two sets of updated obesity United States statistics reveal that the percentage of obese Americans is now between 26% and 32% (almost 1 in every 3 people) (1) (2). In addition to understanding who is obese in America, it is also important to consider statistics related to obesity’s implications.

This page explores a wide variety of obesity statistics in America.


  1. National & State Specific Obesity Rates
  2. Obesity by Race/Ethnicity
  3. Health Conditions Associated With Obesity
  4. Obesity Costs
  5. Obesity Estimates
  6. Discrimination
  7. Patient Experience & Expert Advice
  8. Find a Top Surgeon

National and State Specific Obesity Rates

  • Obesity Rates Continue To Rise

To illustrate the significance of the American obesity epidemic both in terms of the national prevalence of obesity and the increase in the average body mass index (BMI) over the last 24 years, scroll through the following presentation.

To review obesity statistics in America by state, use the Americas Health Rankings’ State Public Health Statistics.

As you progress through the presentation, notice how the state colors correlate with the percentage of individuals in each state who are considered obese (have a BMI of 30 or greater).

To scroll through the slides, click the right arrow at the bottom.

To make the slides easier to read, view full screen by clicking the ‘Menu’ button at the lower right, then click ‘View Fullscreen’. To close full screen, press the “ESC” button on your keyboard.

Since 1988, the average male in America has gained over 17 pounds while the average female has gained about 15 1/2. If the current trends continue, almost 43% of Americans will be obese by the year 2018 (3).


Obesity by Race & Ethnicity

  • All groups have seen an increase in the past several decades

To further break down the data, the following presentation explores the data by race/ethnicity.

The most recent data available shows that African Americans had the highest prevalence of obesity, followed by Hispanics then whites.

As with the presentation above, the state colors correlate with the percentage of each ethnic group’s obesity rates by state…

To scroll through the slides, click the right arrow at the bottom.

To make the slides easier to read, view full screen by clicking the ‘Menu’ button at the lower right, then click ‘View Fullscreen’. To close full screen, press the “ESC” button on your keyboard.


Health Conditions Associated With Obesity

  • Physical and mental health conditions can occur alongside obesity

Obesity is correlated with a wide array of health problems ranging from minor to life-threatening. Following are some of the more severe obesity-related health statistics…

  • Obese men: obesity predicted a 26-year incidence of coronary disease, coronary death and congestive heart failure. The life expectancy of a man in his 20s is 13 years shorter if his body mass index is over 45 (4).
  • Obesity and Mental Health: Obesity was associated with significant increases in lifetime diagnoses of major depression, bipolar disorder, and panic disorder (5)
  • Obese women: Women’s weight is directly related with coronary disease, stroke, congestive failure, coronary and cardiovascular disease death.
  • Obese mothers: Obese moms increase the babies’ risk of low blood sugar (associated with brain damage and seizures), high birthweight (higher Cesarean section delivery rate) and birth defects.
  • Diabetes and obesity: Over 85% of people with diabetes are overweight or obese. In addition, gaining just 11 to 18 pounds doubles an individual’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes
  • However, it should be noted that:

  • Overweight people (BMI 25 to 29.9) live longer than those at “normal” weight (BMI between 18.5 and 24.9) (6).
  • Among the elderly, obesity is not a major cause of death because overweight and obese senior citizens (BMI at or above 24) actually live longer than those at a normal or below normal body weight (BMI below 24) (7).

See our Obesity Health Problems page for a complete list of both minor and severe obesity-related health statistics.


Obesity Costs

  • Obesity incurs significant taxpayer and individual costs

A higher prevalence of minor and severe health problems brings with it higher health care & prescription expenses for those who are obese. Obese individuals have $1,429 higher medical costs than those of normal weight, according to a report published by the CDC.

For those in the 55 and older category, the margin widens quite a bit. The following chart compares the average annual healthcare expenses for normal weight, overweight and obese individuals…

Normal WeightNormal Weight
Mean Total Health Care Expense
Normal Weight$7,512
Mean Inpatient Expense
Normal Weight$2,407
Mean Prescription Expense
Normal Weight$1,518

Severe obesity also costs American taxpayers a lot of money:

  • Estimates range from 69 to 120 billion dollars in medicaid and medicare costs for obesity related conditions (8)
  • Direct costs associated with lack of physical activity cost 24 billion dollars (or 2.4% of the U.S. health care costs) per year (9)
  • Experts predict that medicals costs related to severe obesity will significantly impact attempts to reduce and maintain inflated healthcare costs (10)

Obesity Estimates

  • Estimates By The Year 2030

Data around the future of obesity in America is concerning. Assuming obesity rates stay consistent, by the year 2030:

  • 51 percent of the population will be obese (11). The current American obesity rate is around one-third.
  • 130% increase in severe obesity
  • 6 million cases of obesity related diabetes (12)
  • 5 million new cases of obesity related coronary heart disease (13)
  • Obesity-related healthcare costs will exceed 200 billion dollars (14)

The current trajectory is alarming, and public health professionals continue to work on large-scale solutions to reduce health concerns and address the large costs associated with obesity in America.



  • Statistics show it can have several negative impacts

A nationally representative study of almost 3,000 adults found that the likelihood of reporting obesity discrimination at work increased with weight. Compared with those of normal weight:

  • Overweight respondents were 12 times more likely to report discrimination
  • Obese respondents: 37 times more likely
  • Severely obese respondents: 100 times more likely

Of the respondents, women were 16 times more likely to report weight-related employment discrimination than men.

In addition, obese men and women are paid less on average than workers of normal weight:

  • Obese men receive wages that are 0.7 to 3.4% less
  • Obese women receive 2.3 to 6.1% less.

For more obesity United States statistics related to discrimination, see our Obesity Discrimination page.

To jump straight to a particular section of statistics on that page, click one of the following:


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