The State of Obesity


Adult Obesity in Kentucky

Kentucky is now the ninth most obese state in the nation. After three decades of increases, adult obesity rates remained level in every state except for Arkansas. However, rates remain high — Kentucky's adult obesity rate is 31.3 percent, up from 25.6 percent in 2003 and from 12.7 percent in 1990.
Thirteen states now have adult obesity rates above 30 percent, 41 states have rates of at least 25 percent, and every state is above 20 percent. In 1980, no state was above 15 percent; in 1991, no state was above 20 percent; in 2000, no state was above 25 percent; and, in 2007, only Mississippi was above 30 percent.

Tweet thisCurrent adult obesity rate (2012)


Rank among states (2012)


Adult obesity rate in Kentucky (1990-2012)

Obesity rate by gender (2012)

Men 31.6% Women 31.2%

Obesity rate by age (2012)

18-25 17.6% 26-44 33.5% 45-64 36.0% 65+ 29.2%

Obesity rate by race (2011)

White 29.6% Black 43.1% Latino 22.2%

Source: Trust for America's Health and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future [PDF]. Washington, D.C.: 2013.

Childhood Obesity in Kentucky

2- to 4-year-olds from low-income families

Current obesity rate (2011)


Rank among states (2011)


Historical rates (1989-2011)

Source: fasinfat.org/pednss2011

10- to 17-year-olds

Current obesity rate (2011)


Rank among states (2011)


Historical rates (2004-2011)

Source: fasinfat.org/nsch2011

High school students

Current obesity rate (2011)


Rank among states (2011)


Historical rates (2003-2011)

Source: fasinfat.org/yrbs2011

Obesity-Related Health Issues in Kentucky


Current adult diabetes rate (2012)


Rank among states (2012)


Current diabetes cases (2010)


Projected cases of diabetes in 2030 at current pace


Historical adult diabetes rates (1990-2012)


Current adult hypertension rate (2011)


Rank among states (2011)


Current hypertension cases (2010)


Projected cases of hypertension in 2030 at current pace


Historical adult hypertension rates (1990-2011)

Heart Disease

Current heart disease cases (2010)


Projected cases of heart disease in 2030



Current arthritis cases (2010)


Projected cases of arthritis in 2030


Obesity-Related Cancer

Current cancer cases (2010)


Projected cases of cancer in 2030


Sources: Current diabetes (2012) and hypertension (2011) rates are from F as in Fat 2013 [PDF]); 2010 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, arthritis and obesity-related cancer numbers and projected cases of obesity-related health problems related are from F as in Fat 2012 [PDF].

Public Policy in Kentucky Related to Obesity

Foods and BeveragesU.S.Kentucky

Nutritional Standards for Competitive Foods in Schools

Thirty-five states and Washington, D.C. have nutritional standards for competitive foods. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines "competitive foods" as any food or beverage served or sold at school that is not part of the USDA school meals program. These foods are sold in à la carte lines, in school vending machines, in school stores, or through bake sales. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 required USDA to update the nutrition standards for these foods and beverages. The interim final rule was released in June 2013; the standards will take effect nationwide at the start of the 2014-15 school year.

35 + D.C.Yes

Limits on Competitive Foods in Schools

Twenty-nine states and Washington, D.C. have laws that exceed current federal requirements for when and where competitive foods may be sold. More information about the specific laws in each state

29 + D.C.No

Water Availability in Schools

Two states have regulations to support water availability in schools. Although water fountains have been available in most schools for decades, many schools do not have enough water fountains to supply all of the students, and most schools do not make cups available to encourage students to take more water from the fountains. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 requires schools to provide free, easily accessible, clean water to all students, a provision which went into effect nationwide for the 2013-2014 school year.


Farm-to-School Programs

Thirty-one states and Washington, D.C. have established farm-to-school programs, though many cover only select students or individual schools. A study by researchers at the University of California, Davis found that farm-to-school programs not only increase consumption of fruits and vegetables, but actually change eating habits, causing students to choose healthier options at lunch.

31 + D.C.Yes

Menu Labeling Laws

Four states and some local communities require larger chain food establishments to provide nutrition content on menus. The Affordable Care Act includes a provision that will require certain chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments nationwide to list calorie content information for certain items on menus. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to issue final standards in 2013. Many leading health organizations, including the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Heart Association, support menu labeling as an important health education tool to allow consumers to make informed choices.


Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Taxes

Thirty-four states and Washington, D.C., include soda among items for which they charge sales tax — to date, however, no state has enacted a separate excise tax on sodas, though such proposals have been considered by several states over the past few years. A number of studies have shown that relative prices of foods and beverages can lead to changes in how much people consume them.

34 + D.C.Yes
Physical ActivityU.S.Kentucky

Physical Education Requirements

All 50 states and Washington, D.C. have some physical education requirements for students. However, these requirements are often limited, not enforced, and/or not fully funded.

50 + D.C.Yes

Physical Activity Requirements

Twelve states have school physical activity requirements, which set standards for type and time students participate in physical activity throughout the school day beyond physical education class.


Shared Use Agreements

Twenty-two states have laws encouraging or requiring schools to make facilities available for use by the community through shared use agreements. These agreements allow school districts, local governments and community-based organizations to overcome common liability concerns and costs involved with opening school property to the public after hours.


Safe Routes to Schools

All 50 states and Washington, D.C. operate Safe Routes to School (SRTS) programs — which benefit 13,000 schools nationwide — though implementation and funding support varies. SRTS supports improving sidewalks, bike paths and safe street crossings; reducing speeds in school zones and neighborhoods; addressing distracted driving; and educating people about pedestrian and bike safety.

50 + D.C.Yes

Complete Street Programs

Twenty-eight states and Washington, D.C. have adopted Complete Streets programs, though requirements and funding vary in scope. Complete Streets programs encourage physical activity and green transportation, walking and cycling, and building or protecting urban transport systems that are fuel-efficient, space-saving and promote healthy lifestyles.

28 + D.C.No
Health Assessments and Education in SchoolsU.S.Kentucky

Health Assessments and Screening

Twenty-one states have laws that require BMI screening or other weight-related assessments. BMI and other health assessments are intended to help schools and communities assess rates of childhood obesity, educate parents and students, and help evaluate obesity-prevention and -control programs. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that BMI be calculated and plotted annually for all youths, while the Institute of Medicine recommends annual school-based BMI screenings.


Health Education Requirements

Forty-eight states and Washington, D.C. require schools to provide health education. The goal of school health education is to prevent premature deaths and disabilities by improving the health literacy of students. Health education curricula often include community and consumer health issues related to obesity, among other issues.

48 + D.C.Yes
CDC State Grant ProgramsU.S.Kentucky

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) fund many state and local efforts to prevent and control obesity and related diseases.

Nutrition, Physical Activity & Obesity Grants


Coordinated School Health Grants


REACH Grants


Community Transformation Grants

40 + D.C.Yes

Source: Trust for America's Health and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future [PDF]. Washington, D.C.: 2013.