Obesity is an important risk factor for colon cancer in humans, and numerous studies have shown that a high fat diet enhances colon cancer development. As both increased adiposity and high fat diet can promote tumorigenesis, we examined the effect of diet-induced obesity, without ongoing high fat diet, on colon tumor development. C57BL/6J male mice were fed regular chow or high fat diet for 8 weeks. Diets were either maintained or switched resulting in four experimental groups: regular chow (R), high fat diet (H), regular chow switched to high fat diet (RH), and high fat diet switched to regular chow (HR). Mice were then administered azoxymethane to induce colon tumors. Tumor incidence and multiplicity were dramatically smaller in the R group relative to all groups that received high fat diet at any point. The effect of obesity on colon tumors could not be explained by differences in aberrant crypt foci number. Moreover, diet did not alter colonic expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin-6, interleukin-1β, and interferon-γ, which were measured immediately after azoxymethane treatment. Crypt apoptosis and proliferation, which were measured at the same time, were increased in the HR relative to all other groups. Our results suggest that factors associated with obesity - independently of ongoing high fat diet and obesity - promote tumor development because HR group animals had significantly more tumors than R group, and these mice were fed the same regular chow throughout the entire carcinogenic period. Moreover, there was no difference in the number of aberrant crypt foci between these groups, and thus the effect of obesity appears to be on subsequent stages of tumor development when early preneoplastic lesions transition into adenomas.