01/10/2012 07:26 pm ET

Slightly Fewer Americans Were Obese In 2011, Report Finds

A new Gallup report shows that obesity in America has declined (albeit slightly) between 2010 and 2011 -- from 26.6 percent to 26.1 percent.

The shift is likely caused by more Americans reporting that they were of normal weight in 2011 (going from 35.4 percent in 2010 to 36.1 percent in 2011), according to the report.

The report is based on data taken from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which includes self reports of people's BMI (body mass index, a ratio of height to weight) scores from more than 355,000 people ages 18 and older.

Gallup explains why it's such a good thing that the obesity rate seems to decreasing, even if just a bit:

The cost of obesity is so high that even this small improvement has the potential to save the American economy a significant amount of money. A December 2010 analysis by the Society of Actuaries estimates that the total cost of obesity to the U.S. economy has climbed as high as $270 billion. Gallup's own analysis finds that obesity and related chronic health issues cost businesses alone upward of $150 billion annually.

Just like in past years, the demographic groups most likely to be obese are people ages 45 to 64, people who have low incomes and African-Americans, according to the report.

Before this newest Gallup report came out, studies in the Lancet reported that if things kept going as they are now, half of Americans will be obese by 2030.

And as a result, there will also be an additional 6.8 million cases of stroke and heart disease, 7.8 million cases of diabetes and 539,000 cases of cancer, which could place an extra $66 billion burden on the nation's healthcare bill, according to the research.

Last summer, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust for America's Health released a report detailing the most and least obese states in the United States. For the full ranking, click through the slideshow:

obese states