Overweight and Obesity

Being overweight or obese is associated with an increased risk of numerous diseases and conditions, including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, cancer, and poor reproductive health.1 In 2006, 29.4 percent of women in the United States were overweight and an additional 24.4 percent were obese. Measurements of overweight and obesity are based on Body Mass Index (BMI), which is a ratio of weight to height. Overweight is defined as a BMI of 25.0–29.9, and obese is defined as a BMI of 30.0 or more; a BMI of 18.5–24.9 is considered normal, while a BMI below 18.5 is considered underweight.

In the past decade, obesity among women has increased nearly 50 percent: in 1996, only 16.7 percent of women were obese, and obesity rates among women ranged from 10.7 percent in Colorado to 21.4 percent in Louisiana. By 2006, in 39 States and Washington, DC, more than 21.4 percent of women were obese and State rates ranged from 17.6 percent in Colorado to 33.5 percent in Mississippi.

Women Aged 18 and Older Who Are Obese, by State, 1996-2006 [D]

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Overweight and obesity. November 2007 [online]. www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/obesity, accessed 01/24/08.

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