County by County Blog

Project updates, commentaries, events and news about health across the nation from the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps team.

New Report Details America’s Obesity Epidemic

The County Health Rankings include a county’s adult obesity rate because obesity is related to several chronic conditions and premature death. Additionally, physical inactivity—a contributor to obesity-- at the county level is related to higher health care expenditures. Because of the adverse effects on both the individual and community, increasing physical activity and decreasing obesity is often a key component of community health improvement efforts.

The report F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2013 finds that after three decades of increases, adult obesity rates remained level in every state except Arkansas. Although adult obesity rates remain stable, the rates are still quite high—13 states have obesity rates above 30 percent and 41 states have rates of at least 25 percent.

Released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), F as in Fat looks at obesity rates at the state level and examines high-impact policies to prevent and reduce obesity.

Key findings from the 2013 F as in Fat report include:

  • Rates vary by region. For the first time on eight years, Mississippi no longer has the highest rate-Louisiana at 34.7 percent is the highest, followed closely by Mississippi at 34.6 percent. Colorado had the lowest rate at 20.5 percent.
  • Rates vary by age. Obesity rates for Baby Boomers (45-to 64-year-olds) are 30 percent or higher in 41 states. By comparison, obesity rates for seniors (65+ years old) exceed 30 percent in only one state. Obesity rates for young adults (18-to 25-year-olds) are below 28 percent in every state. 
  • Rates of “extreme” obesity have grown dramatically. Rates of adult Americans with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher have increased by 350 percent in the past 30 years.  
  • Rates vary by education. More than 35 percent of adults ages 26 and older who did not graduate high school are obese, compared with 21.3 percent of those who graduated from college or technical college.

The full report with state rankings in all categories and new interactive maps are available at

Learn about evidence informed approaches addressing obesity at What Works for Health


Related Blog Posts