Percentage of adults who report a body mass index (BMI) ≥30 kg/m2

PLACES Project, Centers for Disease Control. Data from 2021, 1 year modeled estimate.
Dashboard-City Average

Why do we measure obesity?

More than one third of adults in the United States are obese, and obesity is linked to serious and wide-ranging health problems.1 Conditions associated with obesity include diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, asthma, some cancers, poor mental health, and overall reduced quality of life.2,3 Obesity also contributes to significant economic costs from medical bills and lost productivity.4

Obesity is caused by a combination of genetics; health behaviors, including unhealthy dietary patterns and physical inactivity; and the environment in which people live, such as proximity to retail food outlets.2 Some communities are disproportionately affected by obesity, particularly low-income and racial/ethnic minority populations.5

How do we measure obesity?

This metric includes adults, aged 18 or older, who report having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher.

Strengths and Limitations

Strengths of Metric

Limitations of Metric

• Although BMI does not measure body fat directly, it is well correlated with more direct measures of body fat.6

• Using self-reported height and weight, as we do with this metric, is the most inexpensive and reliable method of measurement for a large population.

• BMI does not account for the gender, build, age, or ethnicity of a person.6

• This metric only gives us a picture of adult obesity, not childhood obesity, which is also a significant public health problem in the U.S.

• This metric does not measure whether someone is overweight, which, though not as serious as being obese, also has health risks.

• The metric is self-reported and depends on the accuracy of the person surveyed.


Obesity is calculated by the following formulas:

Obesity Calculation

For more information on the calculation, please refer to the City Health Dashboard Technical Document.

Data Source

Estimates for this metric are from 2018 one year modeled PLACES Project Data (formerly 500 Cities Project) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Multi-year data are available for this metric. For more information, please refer to Using Multi-Year Data: Tips and Cautions


  1. Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Fryar CD, Flegal KM. Prevalence of obesity among adults and youth: United States, 2011-2014. US Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics; 2015.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Adult Obesity Causes & Consequences.

    https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/adult/causes.html. Updated August 29, 2017. Accessed February 16, 2018.

  3. Guh DP, Zhang W, Bansback N, Amarsi Z, Birmingham CL, Anis AH. The incidence of co-morbidities related to obesity and overweight: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC public health. 2009;9(1):88.

  4. Hammond RA, Levine R. The economic impact of obesity in the United States. Diabetes, metabolic syndrome and obesity : targets and therapy. 2010;3:285-295.

  5. Wang Y, Beydoun MA. The obesity epidemic in the United States--gender, age, socioeconomic, racial/ethnic, and geographic characteristics: a systematic review and meta-regression analysis. Epidemiol Rev. 2007;29:6-28.

  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About Adult BMI. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/adult_bmi/index.html. Updated August 29,2017. Accessed February 16, 2018.

Last updated: March 1, 2021