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01:23 - Source: CNN

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CNN  — 

Here’s a look at obesity in the United States. A person is considered to be obese when he or she reaches a particular body mass index (BMI).

Adults with a BMI of 25 to 29.9 are considered overweight, while adults with a BMI of 30 or more are considered obese.

Obesity can increase the risk of several types of medical issues including diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer.


Obesity affects 41.9% of American adults over 20.

The annual medical costs for obesity in the United States is about $173 billion (in 2019 dollars), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The groups with the highest rate of obesity are non-Hispanic Black adults (49.9%), Hispanic adults (45.6%), and non-Hispanic White adults (41.4%).

In 2020, no state had a self-reported obesity rate below 20%. In Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia, 35% or more of the adults are obese.

Timeline (Selected)

2005 - The USDA introduces the dietary system: MyPyramid Food Guidance System. A more simplified version of the 1992 Food Guide Pyramid, it recommends portion control and physical exercise as part of a healthy life style to combat obesity.

June 2, 2011 - MyPlate replaces the MyPyramid Food Guidance System as the national effort to combat obesity continues. The dietary guidelines are displayed as portions of food on a plate instead of a three-dimensional pyramid.

June 26, 2012 - The US Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel of private-sector experts, recommends all adults be screened for obesity.

February 4, 2019 - According to an analysis released by the American Cancer Association and published in The Lancet Public Health, cancers fueled by obesity are on the rise among young adults in the US and appearing at increasingly younger ages.

June 18, 2019 - A study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association finds that obesity rates among low-income preschoolers have declined. The study finds that the prevalence of obesity among 2- to 4-year-olds enrolled in the nation’s Women, Infants and Children nutrition program fell from 15.9% in 2010 to 13.9% in 2016.

December 18, 2019 - A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine predicts that over half of the US population will be obese within 10 years if the nation does not collectively adopt healthier eating habits. The study also finds that one in four Americans will be “severely obese” with a body mass index over 35, which means they will be more than 100 pounds overweight.