State of Obesity in the U.S.

Trust for America’s Heath (TFAH) has recently released State of Obesity 2021: Better Policies for a Healthier America, their latest in an annual series that reports overweight and obesity rates for U.S. adults by age, race/ethnicity and state of residence. The report also provides recommendations for obesity-related policies and programs that improve nutrition education, promote healthy eating and health equity, and encourage physical activity.

The 2021 release also contains a special feature examining the relationships between obesity in the U.S. and the COVID-19 pandemic. TFAH analyzes how obesity rates were affected by the pandemic, changes in eating habits and physical activity, and the effects of pandemic related policies.

Some key findings from the report include:

  • In 2020, 16 states had adult obesity rates at or above 35 percent, up from 12 states the previous year.
  • From 2015-2020, the obesity rate increased in every state. In 10 states, the obesity rate increased by over 15%.
  • More than half of adults in every state were either overweight or had obesity in 2020.
  • Asians have the lowest obesity rate (17.4%) in the U.S. Blacks (49.6%) have the highest, followed by Latinos (44.8%) and Whites (42.2%).
  • 35.6 percent of adults with less than a high school education had obesity compared with 22.7 percent of college graduates—a difference of more than 50 percent.
  • 19.3 percent of youth ages 2 through 19 had obesity. Boys are slightly more likely to have obesity than girls.

More resources related to obesity and physical fitness can be found the Homeland Security Digital Library (HSDL).

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