Obesity Research


Almost one in three Illinois adults (29.3 percent) in 2014 were obese, up from 20.4 percent in 2000, according to the Trust for America’s Health. One in five Illinois children ages 10 to 17 are obese. As a result, Illinois health care professionals are treating an increasing number of patients with obesity-related disease such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers.

Obesity rates are higher in Chicago’s minority communities. A 2008 study (PDF) by the Sinai Urban Health Institute found obesity rates three times higher in a Mexican American neighborhood on the West Side and five times higher in African American communities on the South Side than in a predominantly white neighborhood on the North Side. Data in this report (PDF) by the Chicago Department of Public Health and Chicago Public Schools show disparities among Chicago youth with Latino and African American schoolchildren having significant higher obesity rates than their white counterparts.

To fight this growing epidemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention focus on the prevention of obesity through evidence-based policy and environmental strategies, an area of expertise of the Illinois Prevention Research Center (PRC). Much of our research supports the CDC’s goal to “make healthy eating and active living accessible and affordable for everyone.”

We work with our partners to provide evidence to reduce obesity and its health consequences in multiple ways:

In all of our work, the Illinois PRC aims to address the health inequity of high obesity rates in communities with minority or low-income populations.

In addition, our research teams address other concerns about obesity in collaboration with Prevention Research Centers and their local partners in more than 20 states.


For excellent information about childhood obesity in Chicago and citywide efforts to fight this epidemic, visit the website of our community partners, the Chicago Department of Public Health and the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago’s Children (CLOCC). See also CLOCC’s Blueprint for Accelerating Progress in Childhood Obesity Prevention in Chicago: The Next Decade.

For Illinois statistics related to obesity, check out these sources:

For the latest CDC report on U.S. obesity prevalence, see this 2014 article from JAMA.

Learn more about the CDC Winnable Battles of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, which the Illinois PRC is fighting with our partners.


The source of the image at the top of this page is the UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity. Used with permission.