Georgia adult, teen obesity rates among worst in America

Approximately 31.6 percent of adults in Georgia are obese, the 24th highest rate in the country, according to new data from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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The state also ranks 18th for highest obesity rates among youth ages 10-17.

The foundation's annual State of Obesity report is a collaborative series with the Trust for America's Health aimed at highlighting key data on obesity-related trends.

For the 2018 report, researchers used the latest data and trends on childhood and adult obesity and found the national obesity rate for adults is approximately 39.6 percent, up from 30.5 percent in 1999.

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The national rate of childhood obesity increased from 13.9 percent in 1999 to 18.5 percent in 2016, but the disparities are significant among certain racial and ethnic groups. For example, 25.8 percent of Latino children and 22 percent of Black children have obesity, according to the latest data.

Boys are slightly more likely to be obese compared to girls, but Black girls have proportionally higher rates of obesity than most groups.

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More differences by race and ethnicity among children:

  • Latino: 25.8 percent
  • Black: 22 percent
  • White: 14.1 percent
  • Asian: 11 percent
  • Latino (boys): 28 percent
  • Black (girls): 25.1 percent

Rates of obesity also increase as children age. Data from the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System also showed 14.8 percent of high schoolers in the United States had obesity and an additional 15.6 percent were overweight.

Yet while overall obesity rates are higher than they were in past generations, the rise has slowed in recent years, according to the State of Obesity report.

Of the 50 states in America plus Washington, D.C., West Virginia fared worst of all with its 38.1 percent rate of adult obesity. Mississippi and Oklahoma rounded out the top three with the highest rates.

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Colorado, D.C. and Hawaii had the lowest — between 22.6 percent and 23.8 percent.

Georgia's adult obesity rate of 31.6 percent is a significant increase from its rate in 2000 (20.6 percent) and in 1990 (10.1 percent).

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Here’s more on how Georgia fared for adult obesity, based on 2017 data:

  • Adult obesity rate: 31. 6 percent
  • Rank: 24/51
  • Age range with highest adult obesity rates: 45-64 (37.3 percent)
  • Obesity rate among white population: 29.5 percent
  • Obesity rate among black population: 37.1 percent
  • Obesity rate among Latino population: 29.9 percent
  • Obesity rate among men: 29.7 percent
  • Obesity rate among women: 33.6 percent

When it comes to childhood obesity, Georgia experienced a decline among 2- to 4-year-olds between 2010 and 2014, according to the report. The rate of obesity dropped from 14.4 percent to 13 percent.

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Here’s more on how Georgia fared for childhood obesity, based on 2014-2017 data:

  • Obesity rate among 2- to 4- year olds: 13 percent
  • Rank for 2- to 4-year-old age group: 36/51
  • Obesity rate among 10- to 17-year-olds: 32.2 percent
  • Rank for 10- to 17-year-old age group: 18/51

The state also ranked 12th of the 50 states plus Washington, D.C. in diabetes rates, one of the top obesity-related health issues. The adult obesity rate in Georgia is 11.4 percent, according to 2017 data.

Another serious health issue related to obesity, hypertension, is also cause for concern in the state. With a 33.1 percent adult hypertension rate, Georgia ranks 17th worst in the country.

When it comes to state policies to prevent obesity, Georgia falls behind in several areas. For example, Georgia is one of only 14 states without required middle school physical education.

More about the state of obesity in Georgia at

Download the full report at

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