Shocking Obesity Statistics (2012 Edition)

According to the United States Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there has been a dramatic rise over the last twenty years in obesity. Specifically, the CDC estimates that 35.7 percent of all adults and 17 percent of all children, aged two to nineteen years old, are obese. Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more. A rough estimate of BMI can be calculated from weight and height using a BMI calculator.

Obesity in the U.S.

What’s even more shocking is how quickly obesity levels have increased in the United States. In just 30 years, the obesity levels in children, aged six to eleven years old, increased 20 percent. When obesity is broken down by state, the CDC is able to show regional trends. Obesity levels are highest in the southern states with an average of 29.5 percent. The lowest levels of obesity are in the western states with an average of 24.3 percent. The state of Colorado has the lowest obesity rate in the nation at 20.7 percent. The state of Mississippi has the highest obesity rate in the nation at 34.9 percent.

Heart Health

Obesity puts people at a much higher risk for cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. The incidence of type 2 diabetes and autoimmune diseases is also much higher in obese individuals. The CDC estimates that medical costs directly associated with obesity are $147 billion dollars annually.


According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, obesity levels vary by ethnicity. Non-Hispanic blacks have the highest obesity levels with an average of 49.5 percent. Americans of Mexican heritage have the second highest obesity levels with an average of 40.4 percent. Hispanic Americans of all origins have obesity levels of 39.1 percent. Non-Hispanic whites have an obesity level of 34.3 percent.


Socioeconomic status is also correlated with obesity levels. Across all ethnicities, lower income brackets have higher obesity levels than do higher income brackets. There is an interesting difference between men and women. There is no significant difference in obesity levels between college educated men and men who have not attended college. However, college educated women have a lower obesity level on average than do women who have not attended college.

The World Health Organization estimates that worldwide obesity levels have more than doubled in thirty years. They estimated in 2008 that more than 1.4 billion adults, twenty years old or older, were obese. They also estimated that in 2010, more than 40 million children under the age of five years old were obese. This is perhaps the most shocking statistic of all.

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[custom_author=Peter Wendt]