Obesity Rates Climb To 35% In Seven U.S. States

Colorado remains the least obese state in the country; West Virginia has the highest obesity rate.

CDC Obesity Map
CDC / BRFSS

Colorado remains the least obese state in the country; West Virginia has the highest obesity rate.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has released a new obesity map for the United States for 2017.

According to the map, seven states now have obesity rates of 35% or higher — up from five in 2016 — according to the Daily Mail. The states over 35% are Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and West Virginia. West Virginia tops out at 38.1%, or nearly four in ten residents of the state, while Colorado reports the lowest rate, at 22.6%. PBS points out that only two other states, Hawaii and the District of Columbia, have percentages below 25%. The CDC data is broken down by state, region, race, age, and education level, and was gathered using CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

Regionally, the U.S. areas with the highest rates are in the South and the Midwest, which is consistent with prior years. The states with the lowest percentages are in the West.

Significant racial discrepancies also exist across the board. African-American adults sat a 39 percent obesity rate — higher than the national average — compared to 32.4 percent among Hispanic adults and 29.3 percent for white adults. Racial distribution among regions may play a factor in the national numbers, as well.

In terms of age, more than twice as many middle-aged people are overweight than young adults. The age group from 45-54 has an average of 35.8% — also higher than the national average –while roughly one in six younger folks are obese.

Perhaps most strikingly, education had a significant effect on the likelihood of obesity. Among adults who graduated high school, 32.9% are obese, compared to 35.6% for people without a high school diploma. When we look at college statistics, those with only some college education weighed in at 31.9%, which makes sense, because most people who go to college are required to have a diploma or equivalent to be accepted. But for those who completed their degrees, the percentage plummets to 22.7% — on par with the lowest rates in the country.

According to The Denver Post, obesity rates have risen in 31 states from 2012 to 2017. No states reduced their obesity percentage over that five year period. The post also reports that Colorado has the second lowest rates of hypertension and diabetes, and the second highest rate of physical activity among residents. Washington state claims the top spots in those categories. Also, West Virginia, in addition to having the highest obesity rate, has the highest rate of diabetes at 15.2%. Obesity is considered to be a significant factor in the diagnosis of diabetes.