33 Scary & Fun Facts About Obesity (2021 Edition)

Obesity Statistics

These fun facts about obesity show us that the obesity rate in America is so high it’s considered an epidemic. On top of that, did you know that being obese increases people’s chances of suffering (and dying!) from some more serious diseases? Even coronavirus? 

According to a general definition, having a high BMI is classified as obesity. However, factors like age, sex, ethnicity, and muscle mass can affect the relationship between BMI and body fat. In addition to this, BMI doesn’t make a difference between excess fat, muscle, or bone mass. Nevertheless, it’s used to indicate obesity.

To understand it better, take a look at these.

Top 10 Stats and Fun Facts About Obesity in 2021

  • 43% of people have a genetic predisposition to become obese.
  • More than 73% of Americans suffer from obesity and problems with being overweight.
  • There are more than ten causes of weight gain and obesity.
  • People who have a body mass index (BMI) over 30 are considered to be obese.
  • There are 13.7 million obese children in the US.
  • The state with the lowest obesity rates of 23% is Colorado.
  • The most obese country in the world is American Samoa, with an obesity rate of 74.60%.
  • Obese COVID-19 patients are 113% more likely to end up in the hospital due to complications.
  • Cannabis users are less likely to be obese than non-cannabis users.
  • Cannabis can increase the transformation of white fat to brown fat, which results in burning calories.

If you want to find out more about the causes of obesity, obesity in America, marijuana and weight loss, how to help someone who is obese, or if you’re simply interested in the statistics, keep reading.

Must-Know Obesity Facts and Stats

Obesity is a medical problem that can cause various health problems, from diabetes to cardiovascular diseases and high blood pressure. What are the causes of obesity, and how many people are struggling with being overweight? 

1. 43% of people have a genetic predisposition to become obese.

(Insider)

As 400 genes are connected to obesity, having one of them can put people at a higher risk of developing the disease. However, it is not a general rule. 

43% of the worldwide population has an obesity-associated gene (FTO), making it the most common gene that can cause obesity. Speaking of fun facts about obesity, this gene was actually helpful to our ancestors. It helped them survive by storing fat when they lacked food. 

2. More than 73% of Americans suffer from obesity and problems with being overweight.

(Diabetes.co.uk)

Obesity is a complex illness that involves excessive amounts of body fat. 

The highest obesity rates were reported with adult black women (57%), Mexican American men (51%), Mexican American women (50%), and non-Hispanic black men (41%). Obesity is most prevalent among people aged 40–59. 

3. 1 in 7 American children between the ages 10 and 17 are obese.

(State of Childhood Obesity)

As childhood obesity statistics show, 15.5% of children suffer from obesity. The lowest rates were reported in Non-Hispanic Asian children (5.9%). In sharp contrast, the highest obesity rates were reported in non-Hispanic Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander children (39.8%).

4. There are 158 million obese children in the world (aged 5-19).

(World Obesity)

It’s estimated that the numbers will get even higher. Unfortunately, by 2025, 206 million kids and teenagers between 5 and 19 will be obese, and by 2030 the number will reach 254 million, according to some of the recent obesity statistics worldwide.

5. Obesity is held responsible for 7% of all cancer deaths.

(ACS)

People with obesity, as well as overweight people, are more likely to have cancer. Approximately 8% of all cancer cases in the United States are caused by obesity. The obese are in danger of developing endometrium, breast cancer, colon and rectum cancer, kidney esophagus, and pancreas cancer.

Obesity can also cause cancers of the cervix and ovaries, gallbladder, liver, as well as multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and aggressive forms of prostate cancer.

On the bright side, losing even 10% of the current weight can be extremely beneficial if you’re overweight.

6. Obesity statistics show 89% of people who suffer from type 2 diabetes are obese or overweight.

(Geisinger)

Although skinny people can also develop type 2 diabetes, the chances are six times higher among those suffering from obesity. 

7. There are more than ten causes of weight gain and obesity.

(Healthline)

Weight gain and obesity can be triggered by almost any factor. Some of the leading causes for this epidemic include genetics, leptin resistance, eating heavily processed foods, and food addiction.

According to child obesity statistics, aggressive marketing, that is, marketing tactics that aim unhealthy products directly at children, is also a great part of this epidemic.

8. The global cost of obesity is $990 billion per year.

(World Obesity)

Obesity can cause both direct and indirect costs that have a great impact on the national healthcare system. $990 billion represents 13% of the overall healthcare expenditure and the WHO is worried the world is not trying hard enough.

Eastern Mediterranean and American regions endure the highest expenses, while in OECD countries, the highest costs are recorded in Mexico and Brazil.

9. The third of all obese people live in the US, Russia, China, Brazil, and India.

(World Obesity)

Indeed, the third of all obese adult population in the world is situated in only five countries. Obesity prevalence is expected to hit 18% of men and 21% of women worldwide.

9. Obesity causes 2.8 million deaths worldwide every year.

(WHO

Even though obesity death rates are very high and so many people die from the complications related to being overweight, obesity is rarely listed as the main cause of death. The main causes of death related to obesity are usually hypertension, heart disease, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, etc.

10. People who have a body mass index (BMI) over 30 are considered to be obese. 

(Mayo Clinic

To calculate your BMI, you need to divide your weight (use pounds) and height (use inches) and multiply the obtained number by 703. 

You can also use a technique where you need to divide your weight (use kilograms) by your height (use meters) or use an online BMI calculator. The normal BMI index should be 18.5–24.9. 

Childhood Obesity Facts & Stats

What’s the effect of obesity on children? How many kids struggle with being overweight? The situation is beyond depressing.

11. 15.5% of American high school students are obese.

(State of Childhood Obesity)

The highest prevalence of obesity was recorded among Native American students (21.3%), followed by Black (21.1%), Latino (19.2%), multiple-race students (15.6%), white (13.1%), and Asian (6.5%). 

US child obesity facts could be added some higher figures as 16.1% of all American high school students represent the overweight.

Mississippi is the state with the biggest problem as 23.4% of high school students were overweight in 2019. The lowest rates were seen in Colorado (10.3%), Montana (11.5%), and New Jersey (11.9%). 

12. Obesity facts UK edition reveal 20% of British children are obese. 

(Dentistry)

The family has a huge say in this. Children with obese parents are more likely to develop the disorder themselves. Based on the studies, 26% of children with obese mothers and 22% of children with obese fathers were also having problems with being overweight. Compared to the children whose parents had a standard BMI, as only 7%, i.e., 9% of the children were obese.

13. 8.2% of Australian teens and children have problems with obesity. 

(AIHW)

Less than fun facts about obesity in Australia show us that 1 in 4 children between 2–17 is having problems with being overweight, while 1 in 12 children is obese. Overall, 25% of Aussie kids and teens are either overweight or obese, which is rather shocking. 

14. There are 13.7 million obese children in the US at the moment.

(CNN)

18.5% of American children between the ages of 2 and 19 have problems with obesity. That said, the global pandemic situation worsened the already extremely serious situation. Many children are dealing with depression, which can lead to overeating. 

15. Childhood obesity rates have increased three-fold in the last decades, and the coronavirus pandemic will probably worsen the situation.

(NCBI)

The pandemic may leave a high impact on the youngest population. Since the schools have been closed, children are more likely to spend their day watching TV or playing video games instead of being physically active. The lack of PE classes and other school-based sports programs contribute to unhealthy weight gain. 

Obesity Statistics in America

What’s the status of obesity in the US? How do Americans deal with it, and which state has the highest (lowest) prevalence? 

16. Colorado is the state with the lowest obesity rate, so 23% is the lowest rate in the country.

(World Population Review)

Alongside Colorado, the states with the lowest obesity rates are the District of Columbia (24.7%), Hawaii (24.9%), New Jersey (25.7%), Massachusetts (25.7%), and the Golden State (25.8%). 

17. The highest obesity rates of 38.10% were recorded among West Virginians, obesity by state stats suggest.

(World Population Review)

Statistics put West Virginia in the first place, making it the state with the highest rates of obesity. The Magnolia State is close behind with 37.30%, followed by Oklahoma (36.50%) and Iowa (36.40%).

18. 29.7% of adults with high incomes are obese, which means they are less likely to suffer from obesity. 

(AMA)

Hence, adults who are below the federal poverty line are even more likely to be obese. According to obesity rates in America, 42.6% of Americans that are 100 to 199 percent of the federal poverty line struggle with obesity consequences. 

19. The average BMI of American women is 29.6, meaning the average American woman is — obese. 

(MedicalNewsToday)

Based on the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the normal body mass index should be somewhere between 18.5 and 24.9. Having a BMI number under 18.5 falls into the underweight category, whereas having a BMI over 30 is considered obese. 

20. Ethnicity and obesity reports show 49.6% of Non-Hispanic blacks in the US are obese.

(CDC)

Right beside Non-Hispanic blacks, the highest obesity prevalence is among Hispanics with 44.8% and non-Hispanic whites with 42.2%. Non-Hispanic Asians rank fourth with 17.4%.

21. The American Cancer Society spent $12 million on obesity-related studies.

(ACS)

Since people with obesity are more likely to develop some type of cancer, the ACS put aside money for grants funding several studies that are related to obesity. These studies research what body chemical processes eventually cause obesity, how obesity affects cancer, and which methods lead to healthy lifestyle habits that decrease obesity in children and teenagers.

Interesting Obesity Stats Across the Globe

How many people in the world are obese and which countries have the highest rates?

22. 38.9% of adults across the world are overweight.

(Statista)

What’s more, 20.6% of 5–6-year-olds, 17.3% of teens (10–19), and 5.9% of preschoolers (0–5) worldwide were obese in 2019. 

There are five factors that can contribute to childhood obesity: genetics, food quantity and quality, parent’s perception of their child’s health, absence of physical activity, and environmental resources.

23. Fun facts about obesity globally: the most obese country in the world is American Samoa, with an obesity rate of 74.60%.

(World Population Review) (HealthCare)

As the latest statistics show, the Pacific Islands have the highest obesity rates. Why? First, it was believed that they had a genetic predisposition to obesity; however, the new studies tell a different story. 

The high rates might be a result of the changes in their diet. In other words, the traditional diet of meat, fish, vegetables, and fruits was replaced by one filled with sugar, beer, rice, flour, and canned meats.

24. Coronavirus obesity is already happening as 24% of women worldwide are more likely to have problems with emotional overeating due to the coronavirus pandemic, compared to 17% of men. 

(IPSOS)

This is a serious issue, and Brazilian women are in the worst position. 42% of them are in danger of becoming obese due to overeating. The next in line is far up north — Canadian women leading with 35%. Also, 33% of Mexican and South African women, and 31% of British women deal with coronavirus stress by overeating.

25. Really fun facts about obesity confirm the least obese country in the world is Vietnam. It has only 2.10% obesity prevalence.

(World Population Review)

The overall average BMI of its citizens is 21.6. Bangladesh ranks second with 3.60% of its population being obese, and Timor Leste takes the bronze with 3.80%.

Statistics on Obesity and Health Issues

People with obesity are at higher risk of getting diagnosed with various health-related conditions, from high blood pressure to asthma.  

26. 78% of hypertension cases in men are directly caused by obesity.

(News Medical)

As for women, the hypertension rates are 65%. The research has shown a direct link between obesity and high blood pressure. The BMI affects both the systolic and diastolic blood pressures. In addition, high blood pressure related to obesity also impacts children and young adolescents.

27. Obesity and coronavirus studies confirm obese COVID-19 patients are 113% more likely to end up in the hospital due to complications.

(ScienceMag)

Based on the most recent studies, the virus can be more harmful to overweight people, regardless of their age. Not only are people with obesity at a higher risk of ending up in the ICU (by 74%), but they are also 48% more likely to lose the battle with the virus. 

28. Sons of overweight mothers have a 40% risk of being infertile, overweight and obesity statistics show.

(Mail Online)

Based on one Danish study (Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica) conducted on 9,232 adults, mothers who had a BMI of 25 or more before giving birth were more likely to have infertile sons compared to sons of mothers with a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9. 

Here’s one interesting detail: daughters of overweight mothers didn’t seem to experience the same problem.

29. About 60% of adults that have severe asthma are obese. 

(UpToDate)

The incidence of asthma is highest in obese women (14.6%), facts about obesity and asthma report. 7.9% of women with a normal BMI struggle with asthma. The asthma prevalence is somewhat higher in obese American men (7.1%), compared to lean men (6.1%).

30. Genes responsible for obesity also put you in a 50% higher risk of being diagnosed with chronic kidney disease.

(University of Oxford)

Fat can increase the risk of kidney disease. Still, unlike other obese-related diseases linked to fat deposition (like heart disease), the risk of getting kidney disease is not related to fat location. 

For example, if the fat is located around the central organs, kidney disease will be caused by diabetes. If the fat is located across the whole body, kidney disease will be caused by diabetes and high blood pressure.

Fun Facts About Obesity and Cannabis

Can CBD and cannabis help people with weight control, and what are their effects on the body?

31. Cannabis users are less likely to be obese than non-cannabis users.

(MedicalNewsToday)

On that note, based on one study, cannabis users have smaller BMI, which can be linked to the many cannabis benefits that include increased activity levels, fewer sleeping problems, and better metabolism. 

32. People who use cannabis consume over 600 calories more than non-users but don’t gain weight.

(GEN)

Currently, there’s no conclusive evidence why cannabis users don’t gain weight, even though they eat more than non-users. There are several theories and studies, so the US obesity rate could be enhanced by cannabis.

33. Cannabis can increase the transformation of white fat to brown fat, which results in burning calories.

(NCBI)

There’s no definite proof, but some studies have shown that the use of CBD could stimulate some proteins and genes that break down fat, thus preventing obesity. Although CBD can’t cure obesity, it might be a beneficial supplement for a healthier lifestyle

Bottom Line

Obesity has been on a steady rise in the past years, and it will continue growing. That’s why it’s of great importance to pay attention to our food choices and physical activity. Good lifestyle choices can prevent weight gain and treat the already existing problem.

These fun facts about obesity might look surreal, but you need to know them to prevent obesity or help yourself or someone who is maybe too afraid to ask for help, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. However, before making any changes in your lifestyle or diet, consult your doctor.

FAQs

Which country has the highest rate of obesity?

(WHO)

The fattest country in the world, as the latest statistics show, is American Samoa, an unincorporated US territory in the South Pacific. Approximately 75% of their population is considered obese. The major causes of this epidemic in American Samoa are the lack of health education and consumption of processed, low quality food.

What is the obesity rate in America in 2019?

(The State of Obesity)

According to the data from September 2019, obesity exceeds 35% in nine states, 30% in 31 states, and 25% in 48 states. The highest adult obesity rates are in Mississippi and West Virginia (almost 40%). The lowest rate is in Colorado — only 23%.

How to deal with obesity?

(Mayo Clinic)

Obesity treatment usually starts with a weight loss program. Dietary changes and a general change of lifestyle can be of great help, as obesity facts in America have shown. In some cases, even weight loss medication or surgery can be recommended.

After the weight loss goal is achieved, it’s recommended to stay physically active and to continue following a healthy diet to prevent regaining weight.

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