Adult Obesity

Although obesity is no longer rising in King County, it remains at historically high levels, accompanied by persistent geographic and racial disparities


On average, people who have obesity have shorter life spans and are at higher risk for many serious diseases. During 2013-2017 22% of King County adults were obese.

  • Trends: After a steady rise from 16% in 2000-2002 to 22% in 2008-2010, average obesity rates remained stable but high through 2015-2017. South Region and East Region saw increasing obesity prevalence since 2000, while in Seattle obesity increased and then flattened out after 2009.

  • Race and ethnicity: Asian residents had lower obesity rates than the King County average (8%).  Black/African American, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native residents were more likely than average to be obese (33%, 28%, and 32%, respectively).

  • Age: Obesity was low in young adults age 18-24 (11%), about half as common as in people in older age groups.

  • Income: People in households earning less than $15,000 (31%) or $15,000 to less than $25,000 (27%) per year were more likely to be obese than those in households earning at least $75,000 (19%).

  • Region and city/neighborhood: Obesity in South Region substantially exceeded rates in Seattle, East and North Regions. South Region contained all 10 cities/neighborhoods that had higher rates of obesity than King County average. 8 cities and neighborhoods had lower obesity rates than King County average, including 5 Seattle neighborhoods and 3 areas in the East region.

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a ratio of weight to height used in defining obesity and overweight. Adults are considered obese if their BMI is 30 or above. They are considered overweight if their BMI is at least 25 but less than 30. BMI is calculated as follows: BMI= weight in pounds / (height in inches)2 x 703. A BMI calculator is available at:  


Notes & Sources 

Source: Source: Washington State Department of Health, Center for Health Statistics, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, supported in part by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Cooperative Agreement NU58/DP006066-03-00 (2017).

The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System collects information on the health and safety of Washington residents aged 18 and older. Every year, the Washington State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conduct the survey primarily through telephone interviews, including landline and cellphone numbers. To learn more about the survey, please go to

Numerator: Respondents who reported a height and weight that classified them as obese (see below). Respondents were asked, “About how tall are you without shoes?” and “About how much do you weigh without shoes?”

Denominator: All respondents who answered the question.