Obesity Statistics- 16 Interesting Facts

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By Rebekah Pierce

Reviewed by Juliana Tamayo, MS, RDN - Last Updated

Obesity Statistics

Obesity is a serious issue that affects a large population around the world. In fact, according to research, the number of people who are obese has more than tripled since 1975. Shocking, isn’t it? 

It’s time that we talk about the statistics of obesity and what it means for our health and well-being. 

In this post, we’ll dive into the numbers and uncover the truth about this growing problem. 

So, grab a (healthy) snack and get ready to be educated and entertained!

Weight Scale

What Percentage of the US is Obese?

Brace yourself, my friend. According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2017-2018, 42.4% of Americans are classified as obese. That’s almost half of the population!

To put it in perspective, this means that for every two people you see on the street, one of them is likely to be obese. This might seem shocking at first, but when you think about the lifestyle and habits of the average American, it’s not all that surprising.

Let’s talk about some of the factors that contribute to obesity in the US. A big one is physical inactivity. Many Americans have sedentary jobs where they sit in front of a computer for hours on end, and then go home to watch TV or scroll through social media. This lack of movement and exercise can cause weight gain and contribute to obesity.

Another factor is the availability and affordability of unhealthy food options. Fast food restaurants seem to be on every corner, and junk food is often cheaper than healthier options. Combine that with busy schedules that leave little time for meal prep and cooking, and it’s easy to see why many Americans struggle with maintaining a healthy diet.

unhealthy food

Speaking of diets, let’s not forget about the “diet culture” that can often be harmful rather than helpful. Many people turn to fad diets and quick fixes to lose weight, rather than making sustainable lifestyle changes. These diets often lead to weight loss and gain cycles, which can be damaging to both physical and mental health.

But it’s not all doom and gloom, my friend. Many people are making positive changes in their lives to combat obesity. 

There’s a growing movement towards clean eating and whole, unprocessed foods. Exercise and physical activity are becoming more popular, and many companies are offering wellness programs and incentives to their employees.

Obesity Statistics – Highlights

  • In the United States, all 50 states have an obesity rate over 20%. 17 have an obesity rate higher than 35%. 
  • It’s estimated that a little over 42% of American adults have obesity, while 31% are overweight.
  • Close to 20% of children aged 2 to 19 in the US have obesity, or more than 14.7 million children and teens. 
  • About 112,000 deaths per year can be attributed directly to obesity – though the number is likely higher.
  • 40% of American adults do not participate in any leisure-time physical activity.

In the United States, all 50 states have an obesity rate over 20%. 17 have an obesity rate higher than 35%. 

Source: CDC

Over one fifth of the population in every single state is considered obese. Shockingly, 17 states have an obesity rate higher than 35%. That’s over one third of the population in those states who are considered to be overweight to an unhealthy degree. 

Weighing Self

Washington, D.C. has the lowest rate of obesity, followed by Hawaii and Colorado.

Source: CDC

On the other hand, there are a few outliers in the data. The CDC reports that Washington, D.C has the lowest rate of obesity, followed by Hawaii and Colorado. The reasons behind these lower rates could be anything from better access to healthy food and outdoor activities, to cultural differences in diet and lifestyle. 

Regardless of the reasons, these states are leading the way in healthy living, and it’s worth taking a closer look at what they’re doing differently.

It’s estimated that a little over 42% of American adults have obesity, while 31% are overweight.

Source: National Institutes of Health

This puts the majority of Americans at an unhealthy weight, which can lead to a host of health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, and sleep apnea. 

About 112,000 deaths per year can be attributed directly to obesity – though the number is likely higher.

Source: Obesity Action

Even scarier, according to Obesity Action, about 112,000 deaths per year can be attributed directly to obesity – though the number is likely higher. We’re facing a national health crisis, and it’s time for us to take action.

Close to 20% of children aged 2 to 19 in the US have obesity, or more than 14.7 million children and teens. 

Source: CDC

At first glance, this might not seem like a huge deal. After all, it’s still a minority of children who are affected, right? But the reality is that this number represents over 14.7 million kids. 

That’s a huge chunk of our youth who are living with a condition that can lead to a host of health problems, from diabetes and heart disease to depression and social isolation. 

And this isn’t just a problem for the kids themselves – the cost of treating obesity-related conditions is exorbitant, and falls largely on the shoulders of taxpayers. So it’s not just a moral imperative to address this issue; it’s a practical one too. 

Children who are obese are 70% more likely to be affected by it into adulthood.

Source: Obesity Action

This might seem like a bleak prognosis, but there’s actually a lot of hope here. It means that if we can intervene early enough, we have a much higher chance of positively impacting a child’s long-term health outcomes. 

And this isn’t just about getting kids to lose weight – it’s about creating a culture of health that values physical activity, nutritious food, and positive body image. 

When we teach kids these values, we’re giving them tools to navigate a world that can be hostile to health. 

The global obesity rate has doubled since 1980.

Source: European Association for the Study of Obesity

This is a serious problem, and if this trend continues, obesity-related health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke will continue to rise.

Obesity costs more than $173 billion to the US each year in medical expenses.

Source: CDC

That’s a lot of money! Imagine if these funds were directed towards programs that help people to live healthier lifestyles, instead of treating the diseases related to obesity.

The obesity rate in the United States rose dramatically during the pandemic, increasing by 3% between March of 2020 and March of 2021.

Source: USDA

While staying at home and indulging in comfort food might be tempting, it’s essential to keep our health in check by making healthy choices and engaging in physical activity. Whether it’s taking a walk or following a workout class online, let’s make an effort to prioritize our mental and physical health – even when the world is a bit unpredictable. 

The number of calories we eat in North America and Europe has been rising since 2000, and now equals about 3540 calories per day. 

Source: United Nations

It’s crucial to understand that consuming more calories than we burn can lead to weight gain and, consequently, obesity. Of course, the number of calories you consume depends on your gender, age, activity level, and other factors, but for most people, 3540 is too high of a number to maintain weight in the long term. 

In general, you should opt for nutrient-dense foods and limit our intake of high-fat and high-sugar foods.

Food With Calories

Obesity is connected to up to 53% of new diabetes cases in the US every year.

Source: Journal of the American Heart Association

Why, you may ask? Simply put, being overweight puts pressure on your body, particularly your pancreas, which produces insulin. When your body can’t produce enough insulin to regulate your blood sugar levels, you run the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. 

Non-Hispanic Black adults have the highest age-adjusted rate of obesity at 49.9%, followed by Hispanic adults (45.6%) and non-Hispanic white adults (41.4%). 

Source: CDC

This is alarming, but it’s essential to understand the underlying reasons behind these statistics. For one, access to healthy food options may be limited in certain communities, making it challenging to maintain a healthy lifestyle. 

Cultural preferences for certain dishes and other lifestyle choices (along with limited access to healthcare and other resources in certain areas) may also play a role.

40% of American adults do not participate in any leisure-time physical activity.

Source: Obesity Action

That’s almost half of the adult population, folks! And it’s not just about looking good in a swimsuit – regular exercise has numerous health benefits, from reducing your risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease to improving your mental health and mood.

 So why aren’t more Americans getting up and moving? 

There are a variety of reasons, from lack of time to financial constraints, but the important thing is to find a way to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine. Whether it’s taking a walk during your lunch break or trying a new fitness class, even small changes can make a big difference in your health.

More than 40% of children watch two or more hours of television each day.

Source: Obesity Action

This is a concerning trend, as sedentary behavior in childhood can lead to obesity and other health problems later in life. Plus, all that screen time can have negative effects on a child’s cognitive and social development. 

So what can we do to encourage our kids to be more active? 

For starters, limit their screen time and encourage them to participate in physical activities they enjoy, like soccer, dance, or swimming. Make it a family affair by going on hikes or bike rides together, or enroll your child in a youth sports league.


Today, more people are obese than underweight in every region of the world, with the exception of sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. 

Source: World Health Organization

Obesity is not just a problem in the developed world, more and more developing countries are also dealing with the issue. 

For example, India has the third-highest rate of childhood obesity in the world, after China and the United States. This is a shocking statistic, as India was known for malnourishment in the past, and now childhood obesity is rampant.

The medical costs for people with obesity in the US tend to be up to 40% higher than those for people without obesity.

Source: StatPearls

Obese people are at a higher risk of developing chronic health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, and sleep apnea, to name a few. 

These illnesses affect not only the quantity but also the quality of life. They can lead to physical disabilities, mental health issues, reduced productivity, and social isolation. 

Moreover, the medical costs of treating these conditions are astronomically high, putting a strain on the healthcare system and the economy as a whole.

Final Thoughts: Obesity Statistics

Obesity is not just a cosmetic issue, but a serious health concern. These shocking statistics about obesity are alarming and require immediate attention. 

The best way to prevent obesity is to lead a healthy lifestyle, which includes eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and having adequate sleep. 

Start small, but start today. Every little effort counts, and it’s never too late to make a positive change to improve your health.

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Rebekah Pierce

Rebekah Pierce is a professional writer specializing in a variety of niches, including health and fitness. Her unique blend of experience managing and owning a regenerative farm, along with a background working in both secondary and higher education, gives her the versatility needed to write about a variety of topics. She has a B.A. in English and a M.S.Ed. in Special Education. She's an avid runner, having completed multiple marathons and half marathons, and believes in the profound power of overall health, wellness, and good nutrition when it comes to changing lives!