The information shows that in 2022, at least 35% of adults were obese in 22 states — an increase from 19 states in 2021. The CDC noted that 10 years ago, there were no states that had an adult obesity prevalence at or above 35%.
The data is from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, an interview survey conducted by the CDC and state health departments. Survey participants were considered to have obesity if their body mass index (BMI) was at least 30.
Obesity was most common in Louisiana, Oklahoma and West Virginia, where more than 40% of adults had obesity.
The rest of the 22 states that had an adult obesity prevalence at or above 35% include Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.
At least 35% of American Indian or Alaska Native adults had obesity in 33 states, and the same for black adults in 38 states, Hispanic adults in 32 states and white adults in 14 states. Obesity rates for Asian adults did not exceed 35% in any state.
“Our updated maps send a clear message that additional support for obesity prevention and treatment is an urgent priority. Obesity is a disease caused by many factors, including eating patterns, physical activity levels, sleep routines, genetics, and certain medications,” Karen Hacker, MD, MPH, director of the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, said in a statement.
Hacker continued, “This means that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. However, we know the key strategies that work include addressing the underlying social determinants of health such as access to healthcare, healthy and affordable food, and safe places for physical activity.”
The 2022 maps indicate that population-based interventions are needed to make sure everyone has easy access to healthy foods, safe places to exercise, stigma-free obesity prevention and treatment programs, and evidence-based health care services such as medication and surgery, the CDC noted.
Along with reporting being stigmatized because of their weight, adults with obesity have a higher risk of serious health conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, poor mental health and severe effects from COVID-19, according to the CDC.
The CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity has proven state and local strategies they prioritize to reduce the risk of chronic disease.
The strategies include: making physical activity safe and accessible for all, making healthy food choices easier everywhere, making breastfeeding easier to start and continue, strengthening obesity prevention standards for early care and education (ECE) settings, and increasing the number of and access to family healthy weight programs.
To reverse the obesity epidemic, the CDC also advises that places and practices support healthy eating and active living in many settings.
Eating more fruits and vegetables, encouraging breastfeeding, increasing physical activity, limiting a sedentary lifestyle and lowering screen time are all recommended strategies for prevention.