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The Obesity Epidemic

Obesity, a major risk factor for many chronic diseases, has reached epidemic proportions globally.13 A third of the world’s adult population was obese or overweight in 2005, and if current trends continue the share could reach 57.8 percent by 2030.14

The U.S. has already passed that milestone. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 63.2 percent of U.S. adults were obese or overweight in 2009.

And Texas is in even worse shape — fully two-thirds of Texans (66.7 percent) are overweight or clinically obese.15

According to the CDC, U.S. adult obesity rates rose from 11.6 percent in 1990 to 27.1 percent in 2009. In Texas, our share of adults who are obese more than doubled from 12.3 percent to 29.5 percent (Exhibit 1). Over the same period, the share of Texas adults at normal weight fell sharply, from 57.1 percent to just 33.1 percent, a drop of 42 percent.16

Exhibit 1

Obesity Prevalence Trends in Texas Adults, 1990 to 2009

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

Details for Obesity Prevalence Trends

It Starts in Childhood

Obesity has risen even faster in children than adults. According to CDC, the rate of obesity among U.S. children aged six to 11 tripled from 1980 to 2008, from 6.5 percent to 19.6 percent. Among adolescents aged 12 to 19, obesity rates rose even faster, from 5.0 percent to 18.1 percent.17

Excessive weight puts children at risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, gallbladder disease, depression, anxiety and lower self-esteem, while increasing their risk of chronic disease in adulthood.18

The 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) found that 20.4 percent of Texas children aged 10 to 17 were obese, compared to 16.4 percent for all U.S. children.19

Comparing the 2007 NSCH with its 2003 predecessor yields more alarming results. The number of states with childhood obesity rates at or above 18 percent doubled, from six states in 2003 to 12 in 2007 (Exhibit 4).20

The Demographics of Obesity

The incidence of obesity has increased across the board, but is more pronounced among some groups.

By Age

Obesity rates have risen for all age groups, but the older you are, the more likely you are to be obese.

Texans aged 55 to 64 had the state’s highest obesity rate in 2009, at about 33.7 percent. The 45-to-54 age group was second, at 33.6 percent. Texans aged 35 to 44 came in third-heaviest, at 31.4 percent.21

By Race/Ethnicity

In Texas, Hispanic and black adults had the highest obesity rates in 2009, at 36.4 percent and 35.7 percent, respectively. By contrast, 25.7 percent of Texas white adults were obese (Exhibit 5).22 Child obesity is more common among blacks and Hispanics as well.23 And Hispanics, which are Texas’ fastest-growing population group, are expected to drive obesity rates higher in future years.24

The older you are, the more likely you are to be obese.

By Education and Income

Socioeconomic factors such as lower educational attainment and income can be correlated to obesity in adults, and to some extent in children as well.25

Studies have found that obesity is less common among people with more education, and Texas is no exception. In 2009, Texas’ college graduates were the least likely to be obese, at 22.2 percent. Texans without a high school diploma were the most likely to be obese, at 37.4 percent (Exhibit 6).26

The relationship between income and obesity in adults is well-established.27 In 2009, Texans earning between $15,000 and $24,999 annually were the most likely to be obese (38.1 percent); those earning $50,000 or more per year were least likely, at 26.3 percent.28

Urban vs. Rural

Texans living in rural counties are more likely to be obese. In 2009, Texans in rural areas — those lying outside the state’s metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) —had much higher obesity rates than city dwellers, at 34.3 percent versus 28.8 percent.29

Exhibit 4

Obesity and Overweight Prevalence Among Children Aged 10 to 17 by State, 2003 vs. 2007

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Note: The overweight category includes obese children.
Source: National Survey of Children’s Health, 2003 and 2007.

Details for Prevalence Among Children

Exhibit 5

Share of Obese, Overweight and Normal-Weight Adults by Race/Ethnicity, 2009, Texas vs. the U.S.

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Note: Percentages may not total to 100 percent due to rounding and unreported data for some states.
Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Details for Weight by Race/Ethnicity



Exhibit 6

Share of Obese, Overweight and Normal-Weight Adults by Educational Level, 2009, Texas vs. the U.S.

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Note: Percentages may not total to 100 percent due to rounding and unreported data for some states.
Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Details for Weight by Education

End Notes

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