Adult Obesity Rates by Age and Education Level, 2008

Within each age group, college-educated adults are less likely than others to be obese. 

Figure 1.18a: Obesity Rates Among Adults Ages 25 and Older, by Age and Education Level, 2008

Figure 1.18a: Adult Obesity Rates by Age and Education Level, 2008

Notes & Sources 

Note: “Obesity” is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher, which is equivalent to being at least about 30 pounds overweight at average heights. BMI equals 703 multiplied by weight in pounds divided by height in inches squared.

Sources: National Center for Health Statistics, 2008; calculations by the authors.

  • While the frequency of obesity is lower among adults with some college education than among high school graduates, for each age group the gap is largest between those with a bachelor’s degree and those with some college or an associate degree.
  • Differences in obesity rates by education level persist through middle age but narrow considerably at older ages. For example, among 35- to 44-year-olds, 23% of four-year college graduates and 37% of high school graduates were obese in 2008. Among those 65 or older, 24% of four-year college graduates and 28% of high school graduates were obese.