Quick Start for:

A National Epidemic

Overweight and Obese from Coast to Coast

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define obesity through a calculation called the Body Mass Index (BMI), a calculation based on a person’s weight and height that usually correlates closely to the amount of body fat. The CDC considers a person with a BMI of 25.0 to 29.9 to be overweight. Those with a BMI of 30 or more are considered obese.

According to the CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), 24.4 percent of U.S. adults were obese in 2005 (most recent data available). Texas exceeded the national average, with 27.0 percent of its adults considered obese.

According to the CDC, 61.1 percent of all U.S. adults were overweight or obese in 2005. Texas again exceeded the national average, with 64.1 percent of its adults considered overweight or obese. Texas ranked tenth among states in its share of overweight or obese adults (Exhibits 1 and 2).1

Exhibit 1: Obesity by State - Detailed Data is in Exhibit 2


Exhibit 2
2005 Nationwide Obesity and Overweight Ranking

Rank State Percent Obese or Overweight Percent Obese
1 Mississippi 67.3% 30.9%
2 West Virginia 65.4% 30.6%
3 Kentucky 64.9% 28.6%
4 Arkansas 64.7% 28.0%
5 Louisiana 64.6% 30.8%
6 South Carolina 64.6% 29.1%
7 Alabama 64.5% 28.9%
8 Alaska 64.2% 27.4%
9 North Dakota 64.2% 25.4%
10 Texas 64.1% 27.0%
11 Missouri 63.9% 26.9%
12 Nebraska 63.2% 26.0%
13 Oklahoma 62.9% 26.8%
14 Delaware 62.9% 23.5%
15 Georgia62.9% 26.5%
16 South Dakota62.8% 25.5%
17 North Carolina62.6% 25.9%
18 Iowa62.5% 25.4%
19 Michigan62.5% 26.2%
20 Ohio62.4% 24.3%
21 Indiana62.3% 27.2%
22 Tennessee62.3% 27.4%
23 Pennsylvania62.9% 25.3%
24 Wyoming62.6% 24.2%
25 Wisconsin62.5% 24.4%
Rank State Percent Obese or Overweight Percent Obese
26 Idaho62.3% 24.5%
27 Virginia 61.2% 25.1%
28 Maryland 61.1% 24.4%
n/a National Average 61.1% 24.4%
29 Minnesota 60.9% 23.7%
30 Illinois 60.8% 25.1%
31 Kansas 60.8% 23.9%
32 Florida 60.7% 22.8%
33 California 60.6% 22.7%
34 New Mexico 60.3% 21.7%
35 New Hampshire 59.9% 23.1%
36 New York 59.8% 22.2%
37 Oregon 59.7% 23.8%
38 Maine 59.6% 22.7%
39 Washington 59.4% 23.3%
40 New Jersey 59.2% 22.1%
41 Rhode Island 59.2% 21.0%
42 Nevada 58.8% 21.2%
43 Connecticut 58.2% 20.1%
44 Montana 57.5% 21.3%
45 Arizona 56.2% 21.1%
46 Utah 56.2% 21.2%
47 Massachusetts 56.1% 20.7%
48 Vermont 55.8% 20.2%
49 District of Columbia 55.0% 21.7%
50 Colorado 54.5% 17.8%
51 Hawaii 53.0% 19.7%

Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Prevalence: Percentage of Obese Texans, 1990-2005

Obesity Prevalence Trends in Texas Adults 1990 to 2005: Exhibit 3

During the past 15 years, the share of Texans at a normal weight declined rapidly, while the percentage of obese Texans increased. According to the CDC, 12.3 percent of adult Texans were obese in 1990, while 57.1 percent were at a normal weight. By 2005, 27.0 percent of Texans were obese and only 35.9 percent were at a normal weight. This equates to a 119.5 percent increase in the percentage of adult Texans who were obese, and a 37.1 percent drop in the percentage of normal-weight adults (Exhibit 3).


In 2005, there were nearly 3 million more obese adults in Texas than in 1990. There were 1.5 million obese Texas adults in 1990, while in 2005 there were 4.5 million, nearly a 200 percent increase over 15 years.

Demographics

According to the CDC’s 2005 BRFSS, 37.1 percent of adult Texans were overweight and another 27.0 percent of adult Texans were obese.2 The demographic breakdowns behind these numbers further illustrate the prevalence of the obesity epidemic.

Gender

Weight by Gender: Exhibit 4

Men are more likely to be overweight or obese than women. In 2005, 72.4 percent of Texas males were overweight or obese, compared to 55.6 percent of females (Exhibit 4).

Age

Weight by Age: Exhibit 5

In 2005, more than half (53.3 percent) of Texans aged 18 to 29 were overweight or obese. Those aged 30 to 44 were much more likely to be overweight or obese, with a prevalence of 67.3 percent. Those 45 to 64 were heavier still; 71.3 percent were overweight or obese (Exhibit 5).

Ethnicity

Weight by Ethnicity: Exhibit 6

Ethnicity matters, too. In 2005, white Texans were healthiest, and still 60.1 percent were overweight or obese. Seventy-one percent of Hispanics were overweight or obese. Blacks were the most likely ethnic group to be overweight or obese, with 75.7 percent falling into one category or the other (Exhibit 6).

Educational Level

Weight by Educational Level: Exhibit 7

The more educated you are, the less likely you are to be overweight or obese. In 2005, adult Texans with no high school diploma were the most likely to be overweight or obese, at 67.8 percent, followed by those with a high school diploma at 67.0 percent, those with some college education at 63.4 percent and college graduates at 59.9 percent (Exhibit 7).

Income Level

Weight by Income Level: Exhibit 8

Weight also varies slightly by income level. In 2005, 66.4 percent of adult Texans making $25,000 per year or less were overweight or obese, as were 65.5 percent of those making between $25,000 and $49,999 and 63.9 percent of those making $50,000 per year or more (Exhibit 8).

Geography

Weight by Public Health Administrative Regions - detailed description follows.

Geographic location also plays a role in how much a Texan is likely to weigh. Certain regions in Texas have a much higher prevalence of obesity than others.

The Texas Department of State Health Services divides the state into a series of public health administrative regions. The West Texas and Upper Rio Grande regions (regions 9 and 10) and the Central Texas region (region 7) had the state’s lowest obesity rates in 2005, at 22.8 percent for regions 9 and 10 and 23.4 percent for Central Texas. The Upper South Texas region (region 8) and Lower South Texas region (region 11), by contrast, had the highest rates of obesity, at 31.1 percent and 37.4 percent respectively (Exhibit 9).3 In addition, 30.9 percent of adults in Texas’ Border counties were obese in 2005, compared to just 26.8 percent of adults in other counties.4

Certain cities are particularly prone to obesity as well. The Austin-Round Rock metropolitan statistical area (MSA) was the state’s “skinniest” in 2005, with 55.1 percent of its adults being overweight or obese (18.1 percent obese and 37.0 percent overweight). The San Antonio MSA, by contrast, had the highest prevalence, with 66.4 percent of its adults being overweight (37.2 percent) or obese (29.2 percent) (Exhibit 10).5

Exhibit 10
Overweight and Obesity in Texas Adults, by Metropolitan Statistical Area 2005

MSA Overweight Obese Overweight and Obese
San Antonio 37.2 29.2 66.4
Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown 39.7 25.9 65.6
El Paso 39.1 23.4 62.5
Fort Worth-Arlington MD 37.0 24.3 61.3
Dallas-Plano-Irving MD 33.2 26.7 59.9
Austin-Round Rock 37.0 18.1 55.1

Sources: Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Endnotes

  1. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Weight Classifications Based on BMI,” http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/brfss/list.asp?cat=DE&yr=2005&qkey=4409&state=AL (Last visited February 9, 2007.)
  2. Texas Department of State Health Services, “Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System: Data Table Lookup,” http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/chs/brfss/query/brfss_form.shtm (Last visited March 5, 2007.)
  3. Texas Department of State Health Services, “Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System: Data Table Lookup.”
  4. Texas Department of State Health Services, “Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System: Data Table Lookup.”
  5. Texas Department of State Health Services, “Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System: Data Table Lookup.”
Required Plug-ins