Morbid Obesity Highest Among Black Americans

Excessive weight and obesity are problems that affect all Americans, but African-Americans are the most likely to be extremely obese, according to a new Gallup report.

An estimated one in 10 black Americans (9 percent) are classified as having Class II obesity, meaning their body-mass index (BMI) is between 35 and 40. A BMI of 30 or higher is considered to be obese.

Another 6 percent of African-Americans have a BMI of more than 40, or Class III obesity.

Asian-Americans are the least likely, by ethnicity, to be highly obese, according to data from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. Overall, about one in four Americans is obese, the report estimates.

The report also found that:

  • Men and women have about the same rate of high obesity, even though men are generally more likely to be obese than women
  • Obesity rates peak in middle age, then drops off sharply after age 70 — likely because of the higher death rate among obese individuals
  • Americans with the lowest incomes and the least education are the most likely to be highly obese
  • Unemployed Americans are more likely to be highly obese than those with jobs