Science and Tech


These states have the highest obesity rates in the US

Obesity rates continue to increase across the U.S., which the CDC says is leading to higher health care costs.
Person with excess weight pinches their stomach.
Posted at 8:27 AM, Sep 22, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-22 08:27:42-04

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new data on Thursday indicating that more Americans are becoming obese. 

That data indicates that in 2022, at least 35% of adults were considered obese in 22 states. Three of those states — Wisconsin, Georgia and Virginia — were below 35% the year before. 

In 2016, just five states had obesity rates above 35%. A decade ago, only Mississippi and West Virginia had obesity rates above 35%. 

The data found that young adults ages 18-24 were about half as likely (20.5%) as those ages 45-54 (39.9%) to be considered obese. 

From 1999-2020, obesity-related cardiovascular disease deaths tripled
A scale is pictured

From 1999-2020, obesity-related cardiovascular disease deaths tripled

Black individuals, and especially Black women, had higher mortality rates than any other group in the study.


The body mass index determines if a person is considered obese. It uses a simple formula combining a person's weight and height. A person with a body mass index between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered a normal weight. Those with a BMI between 25 and 29.9 are overweight, while those with a BMI of over 30 are considered obese.

Someone who is 6 feet tall and weighs 184 pounds would be considered overweight. Six feet tall and 221 pounds would be considered obese. For someone 5-feet-6-inches, 155 pounds is considered overweight, while 186 pounds is obese.

Officials note that obesity adds to health care costs. CDC data from 2019 indicated those who are obese spend $1,861 more per year on medical costs than people with a healthy weight. This meant Americans collectively spent $173 billion extra in health care costs due to obesity. 

According to the new data, these 10 states have the highest obesity rates:

1. West Virginia (41%)

2. Louisiana (40.1%)

3. Oklahoma (40%)

4. Mississippi (39.5%)

5. Tennessee (38.9%)

6. Alabama (38.3%)

7. Ohio (38.1%)

8. Indiana (37.7%)

9. Wisconsin (37.7%)

10. Kentucky (37.7%)

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The injectable drug Ozempic is shown on a box.

Weight-loss drugs are a lot more expensive in US than other countries

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These states have the lowest adult obesity rates:

1. District of Columbia (24.3%)

2. Colorado (25%)

3. Hawaii (25.9%)

4. Vermont (26.8%)

5. Massachusetts (27.2%)

6. California (28.1%)

7. New Jersey (29.1%)

8. New York (30.1%)

9. New Hampshire (30.2%)

10. Montana (30.5%)

The CDC says eating and physical activity patterns, insufficient sleep and other factors influence excess weight gain. The CDC has food and exercise guidelines on its website.

Obesity is not just expected to become worse in the U.S., but it's a growing problem worldwide. 

According to World Obesity Foundation data, half of the world’s population will either be considered overweight or obese by 2035. Even more concerning, childhood obesity rates are on track to double between 2020 and 2035.