Obesity in America: Facts and Statistics

Obesity is defined as an individual having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater. The American population is plagued by adult obesity with over one-third being considered obese. This 39.8% of adults doesn’t include the 18.5% of youth that is obese within the country, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Although these numbers have not increased dramatically since 2010, they have also not decreased. The country failed to meet a goal of reducing obesity to 15%. As those facts about obesity in America would indicate, weight loss surgery is on the rise.

General Facts About Adult Obesity:

  • 71.6% of people are overweight
  • 39.8% of people are obese
  • 41.1% of women are obese
  • 37.9% of men are obese
  • Adult obesity rates are slightly higher when considering specific age, race and socioeconomic factors.

More than one in four severely obese men and nearly one in five severely obese women live in the United States. By 2025, an estimated 43% of women and 45% of men in the United States will be obese.

In 1975, 2.6% of the world’s population was obese; in 2014, that number had risen to 8.9%.

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Factors Contributing to America’s Adult Obesity Rate

Obesity in America is becoming a serious concern for many health professionals. The epidemic has increased in recent decades as many health professionals try to find a solution. But there are a couple other major factors contributing to the problem, including:

  • Lack of Excercise: 78% of American’s are not meeting basic activity level recommendations.
  • Weight loss products: pills, diets, ab-crunchers, workout videos, miracle teas and countless others are all over the radio, the television and the Internet, all promising buyers that they will lose weight. But as most of us know, they won’t work as well as something as simple as exercise.

How Much the Weight Loss Industry Cost Americans

In 2008, the estimated medical cost of obesity was approximately $147 billion in the United States. But there’s also what people spend to lose weight before taking on any medical costs.

If you are on a diet right now – or spending money to try to lose weight – there’s a giant industry you should be familiar with.

  • Americans spend over $60 billion to lose weight, every year!
  • Considering the fact 75 million Americans are actively trying to lose weight, that’s $800 per person per year!
  • The bulk of the money is spent on food and drink advertised as “diet” (e.g., diet cola).
  • 80 percent of dieters undertake the mission on their own, while 20 percent join a paid weight loss group or see a health professional.
  • The typical dieter makes four attempts per year to try and lose weight, meaning at least three of their diets fail.
  • If you think $60 billion dollars is a lot, it’s actually dwarfed by the $300 billion fast food industry and the $100 billion junk food industry.

How much money are you spending this year to lose weight?

It Costs More to Eat Healthy

Recent estimates show 49 million Americans make food purchasing decisions based on cost.

A chart displaying the relationship between the cost and nutritional value of specific meals, including corn dogs, cheeseburgers, kale salad and prime rib.

Read an entire an article about the cost of eating healthy on Wellio.

In today’s society, eating healthy is more expensive than eating whatever is available at McDonald’s or Taco Bell. Fast food dollar menus are often the only food available for lower income families and families on the run. Researchers have reported that eating more potassium, one of four key nutrients that are part of U.S. dietary guidelines, can add $380 to the average person’s yearly food costs.

In addition, higher-income women are less likely to have obesity than low-income women. However, among non-Hispanic black and Mexican-American men, those with higher incomes are more likely to have obesity than those with low income.

Although there is no significant relationship between obesity and education among men, there is a trend, however, among women; those with college degrees are less likely to be obese compared with less educated women.

Health Risks of Obesity

  • 80% of type II diabetes is related to obesity
  • 70% of cardiovascular disease is related to obesity
  • 42% of breast and colon cancer is diagnosed among obese individuals
  • 30% of gallbladder surgery is related to obesity
  • 26% of obese people have high blood pressure

Facts About Obesity in America Related to Race and Age

Groups with the highest rates of obesity in the United States are Hispanic, non-Hispanic Black and non-Hispanic whites. Those groups have obesity rates of 47.%, 46.8% and 37.9%, respectively. Non-Hispanic Asian adults have an obesity rate of only 12.7 percent.

The obesity rates are higher among middle-aged adults between 40–59 years old and older adults ages 60 and over, which are 42.8% and 41%, respectively, than among younger adults between 20–39 years old. The obesity rate for younger adults is 35.7%.