A growing level of attention has been focused on the topic of obesity. It is a problem that affects all segments of society. Despite its general presence, studies have indicated that certain races and geographical regions are impacted more than others.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention obesity study from 2013, non-Hispanic blacks in the United States have the highest rate of obesity with 37.6% of their population classified as overweight. Hispanics followed them with a prevalence rate of 30.6%. Whites, who had a prevalence rate of 26.6%, had the lowest rates of the three groups.
There are obvious differences in the racial makeup of obesity in the United States, but is race the only factor in this problem? Consider the following chart:
Obesity in the US was analyzed by state in the same CDC study. Overall, most states have obesity rates of 25% – 35% for their entire population. Race and geographical regions seem to correlate in obesity rates:
• Non-Hispanic black adults had the highest obesity prevalence rates in the South. Following this region was the Midwest, West and Northeast.
• Hispanic adults had the highest obesity prevalence rates in the Midwest, followed by the South, West and Northeast.
• Non-Hispanic white adults had the highest prevalence rates in the Midwest, followed by the South, Northeast and West.
Interestingly, Hispanics and blacks share a geographical inclination towards obesity. The South and Midwest are the two areas where both groups are most likely to be overweight, whereas the Northeast is the least likely. In terms of extremes, black adults in the South have the highest obesity prevalence rates in the US while whites in the West have the least.
The United States may have rivaling obesity demographics within its own borders, but how does it compare with the rest of the world?
According to worldwide data from 2007 and 2008 put out by the Central Intelligence Agency, the US has a higher obesity prevalence rate than most of the world. The countries with dark blue coloring have the highest global rates with 30% or more of the population considered overweight. Most people wouldn’t be surprised to see that the United States listed here, but would they have guessed that Saudi Arabia, Egypt, South Africa the Czech Republic and Venezuela also share this category?
The countries in dark blue have an obesity prevalence rate of 20% – 30% of the population. Countries in light blue have 10% -20% while the nations with the lightest shade of blue have 0% – 10%. The few countries in yellow did not have data available.
Among G7 countries, the highest obesity prevalence rate is found in the US with 33%. The UK followed behind with 26.9% while Canada came in third with 26.2%. Of the seven most industrialized countries, Japan had the lowest prevalence rate with a mere 5%. This could indicate cultural tendencies, as Japan is the only Asian country in the G7.
Worldwide data (years 2007 and 2008): Central Intelligence Agency
State-level data by ethnicity (year 2013): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention