Recent Data Shows Latino Obesity Rates Remain Stubbornly High

Increasing access to healthy affordable foods is key to reverse this trend

By Lanette Garcia, Health Policy Analyst, UnidosUS

Latino obesity | Healthy foodsNew data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that obesity rates for adults and children in the United States have hit an historic high.

The CDC’s annual National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that the adult obesity rate now stands at 39.8%, while that of children stands at 18.5%.

The study also includes data by race and ethnicity—and findings for Latinos are particularly troubling.

  • The obesity rate for Latino adults now stands at 42.6% compared to 36.4% of non-Hispanic Whites, while non-Hispanic Blacks have the highest rate of 48.4%.
  • The Latino child obesity rate stands at 25.8% compared to 14.1% for White children, and 22.0% of Black children.
  • Latino boys aged 2-19 represent the group with the highest prevalence of obesity among children at 28.0%.

While these rates are cause for concern in and of themselves, they also have broader societal implications.


Latinos are the youngest major ethnic group in the United States and are projected to account for one in three children by 2050. In addition, Latinos are projected to make up one in every three members of the workforce by 2050. Given these demographic projections, it’s clear that the health and economic well-being of our nation is linked to that of the Latino community.

Latino obesityObesity has been shown to increase the risk of many serious health conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, diseases that already affect many Latinos and drive up health care costs in the U.S.

Addressing persistent disproportionately high rates of obesity among Latinos children would create a healthier, more economically secure America for all of us.


UnidosUS has long worked to advance policies and approaches that give more Latino children and their families the opportunity to be healthy, regardless of where they live or their economic circumstances.

And while multiple factors contribute to obesity and related chronic conditions, increasing access to healthy affordable foods is key.

Healthy eating | Latino obesity

Whether advocating to protect programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and strengthen federal child nutrition programs or partnering with our Affiliate network to implement culturally relevant programs such as Comprando Rico y Sano, we are committed to reversing the trend of obesity and ensuring that more children and their families can be healthy and thrive.

To learn more about our work, visit our Nutrition & Wellness page and join us as we work to help Latino children and families live their healthiest lives.

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