Apr 13, 2023 - News

Almost half of North Carolina is obese

Chart: Rahul Mukherjee/Axios

Nearly half of North Carolinians are obese, according to a new analysis from NORC, a research organization at the University of Chicago.

  • 45% of the state has a BMI over 30 — a little more than 2% higher than the national average.

Why it matters: Obesity is associated with hypertension, cardiovascular disease, stroke and other conditions that can lead to preventable, premature death, Axios' Arielle Dreher reports.

Zoom in: Wake County was ranked in the 2023 County Health Rankings report as having the second best health factors in the state — a measure that factors in obesity.

  • Orange County was ranked No. 1, the report, released by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, found.
  • Robeson County came in last place.

By the numbers: Around 23% of our state have a BMI higher than 35, and 10% higher than 40.

  • Nearly one in three — 32% — North Carolinians have hypertension, and nearly one in 4 have arthritis.
  • One in three of North Carolinian kids ages 10-17 are overweight or obese. Nearly 48% of those kids are Black, NC Child's 2023 Child Health Report Card found.

Zoom out: West Virginia and Mississippi have the highest obesity rates at 51%. The District of Columbia had the lowest obesity rate at 33%, followed by Colorado at 34%.

  • Obesity disproportionately impacts Black and Hispanic Americans, the analysis found.
Data: County Health Rankings; Map: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Of note: The NORC analysis was produced with funding from Novo Nordisk, a company which produces both insulin and Ozempic, one of the popular weight-loss drugs.

  • Obesity rates are determined in part by using Body Mass Index ranges, which have been called into question for correlating weight and health too closely, the New Yorker reported.

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