A View of the U.S. Obesity Epidemic

Map showing Percent of Obese (BMI > 30) in U.S. Adults in 1985


Map showing Percent of Obese (BMI > 30) in U.S. Adults in 1995 by state


Map showing Percent of Obese (BMI > 30) in U.S. Adults in 2005 by state


Map showing Percent of Obese (BMI > 30) in U.S. Adults in 2010 by state

These snapshots reveal a very disturbing trend: the rise in obesity in the US from 1985 to 2010. Today one third of adults in the US are obese, another third are overweight.

Because obesity has risen to epidemic levels—causing devastating and costly health problems, reducing life expectancy, and provoking stigma and discrimination—the NIH has established the NIH Obesity Research Task Force to accelerate progress in obesity research. For example, why are some individuals more susceptible to obesity? Can knowledge of biology and behavior be leveraged to develop better intervention strategies? What strategies work? For whom? Can these approaches be scaled up?

10 thoughts on “A View of the U.S. Obesity Epidemic

  1. Wow. This is a shocking inforgraphic. I wonder what this data looks like among several generations. Are the changes in obesity a trend more common among younger or older americans? Could it be that these obesity trends are cummulative due to exposure in the womb? Can our genomes adjust their expression, to compensate for any unknown environmental factors, over several generations & get us back to healthy weights? I hope that epigenetics researchers will be able to zero in for us, who is most at risk to develop obesity over time and provide some theraputics. In the meantime, behavioral interventions on food portion control would seem to be critical for Americans.

  2. I wonder what other countries look like? Is this only an American problem? If so, how does the US environment differ from that in, say Europe or China? These seem like *obvious* questions to ask.

  3. Texas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and South
    Carolina worst obesity epidemic, need some eating
    /living lifestyle modification ! it’s time to think!
    Tertiary care is overwhelmed with high cost of treating cardiovascular and other chronic illness such as diabetes.
    Prevention strategy can save millions and reduce the overall cost of treatment.

  4. As someone who has lost 60 lbs over the past year and lowered my cholesterol from 190+ to 115 sans drugs, I can tell you that obesity is not inevitable, but cooking a healthy diet from basic ingredients does take time. We need to look much more seriously at the full costs of agricultural and food subsidies, and we need good real world studies to understand which component of our diets are inducing obesity. Time to move beyond simple calorie counting.

  5. Why did the obesity epidemic explode after the 1980s? Look at your ‘healthy food pyramid’, telling people that eating lots of carbohydrates is healthy is the reason. People around the world have known for millenia that if you need to lose weight, you need to eat less carbohydrates.

    I was eating according to the ‘healthy food pyramid’, and I ended up weighing 324 pounds at age 24. Luckily, I found out about just how much of a lie it is that fat is bad and carbs are good, now I restrict my carb intake and eat plenty of healthy protein, fat, and vegetables and I’ve dropped 66 pounds in less than 6 months. Furthermore, my blood pressure and cholesterol normalised, and my overall health is incredibly better.

    If only the relevant government departments would realise – it is NOT that people are too lazy to follow your advice, people DO follow your advice and it is WRONG and making them FAT.

  6. Its CORN. In all its form and in all its uses, from High Fructose Corn Syrup (the primary threat to our well being) to feeding it to Cows (which are not designed to eat corn). Genetically modified Corn is in EVERYTHING. The problem began shortly after Nixon introduced the corn subsidy. Remove the subsidy and see what happens, or “try” to eat a diet which does not have corn in it.

  7. Google “The Men Who Made us Fat” or watch the documentary and judge for yourself. It’s truly shocking what has been done to our food without our knowledge of permission. What we need to do is get corn syrup out of our food now!

  8. “Obesity is not a disease, it is an adaptation.” Excellent insight from a doctor-friend of mine who understands that we cannot cure obesity like we cure other maladies. Our bodies adapt to our environment, and those environmental factors must be addressed before our bodies will respond.

  9. Can we stop blaming everyone and everything? From food pyramids, genetic mutations to by god! Corn? Moderation, eating veggies and healthy snacking are within our intelligence and power. And to even ask about statistics from other countries? Who cares?! You know enough about eating because your grandma told you, and if she didn’t, the schools did. Carbs in the pyramid did not include Cheetos. Sigh. Why is there a blame game in every issue. Digest the facts and apply them.

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