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Obesity Rate By State

Obesity Rate By State
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Introduction

In the shadow of the obesity epidemic that continues to spread across the United States, our investigation dives deep into unveiling the grim reality of this health crisis. As the United States stands 12th when it comes to obesity on a global scale, its national adult obesity rate hovers around 41.9% per the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Across the states, the scourge of obesity does not paint a uniform picture. Rather, regional disparities emerge as a salient feature of this health crisis.

  • Southern states such as Mississippi, West Virginia, and Alabama lead the nation in obesity rates with figures surpassing 36% of the population. 
  • High obesity rates are not limited to the South. Midwestern states like Oklahoma, Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio also report troubling obesity rates above 34%.
  • The states with the lowest obesity rates are predominantly located in the west or northeast region of the country. These include Colorado, Massachusetts, Hawaii, and Vermont, with obesity rates ranging from 23.8% to 26.6%.
  • In general, there is a clear geographical trend. Southern and Midwestern states tend to have higher obesity rates, while Western and Northeastern states generally report lower rates.
  • The data indicates a significant range in obesity rates - from the highest, Mississippi, at 40.8%, to the lowest, Colorado, at 23.8%.

States that are Most Obese

Leading the unenviable list is Mississippi, bearing the highest obesity rate in the nation at 40.8%. This southern state has historically struggled with high rates of obesity and the socioeconomic issues that often accompany it.

Occupying the second slot is West Virginia, with an obesity rate of 39.7%. Its economy was once heavily dependent on coal mining, but with the decline of the industry, many are left in physically less demanding jobs or unemployment, contributing to the state's high obesity rates.

Following closely behind is Arkansas, carrying an obesity rate of 37.4%. The state's high obesity rate mirrors some frequently observed patterns: states with high poverty rates and relatively low education levels tend to have higher rates of obesity.  

The Sooner State, Oklahoma, comes in fourth with an obesity rate of 36.8%, followed closely by Tennessee and Kentucky, both with an obesity rate of 36.5%. 

Alabama registers an obesity rate of 36.1%, turning the spotlight again on the noticeably high rates in the South.

Michigan deviates from our Southern trend, with an obesity rate of 36.0%, reflecting the broader national trend of high obesity rates across the Rust Belt. 

Rounding out the top 10 are Louisiana and South Carolina, posting high obesity rates of 35.9% and 35.4%, respectively.

Here are the 10 states with the highest obesity rates:

  1. Mississippi - 40.8%
  2. West Virginia - 39.7%
  3. Arkansas - 37.4%
  4. Oklahoma - 36.8%
  5. Tennessee - 36.5%
  6. Kentucky - 36.5%
  7. Alabama - 36.1%
  8. Michigan - 36.0%
  9. Louisiana - 35.9%
  10. South Carolina - 35.4%

States that are Least Obese

Leading the pack with the lowest obesity rate is Colorado at just 23.8%. Known for its active lifestyle and outdoor recreational opportunities, Colorado manages to uphold an obesity rate nearly half the national average.

Following Colorado are Hawaii and Massachusetts with marginally higher rates of 25.0% and 25.2%, respectively. Hawaii benefits from a culture that embraces a healthy diet consisting of fresh fish and fruits, while Massachusetts is known for its robust healthcare initiatives and access to quality food markets.

Two of the most populous states in the country, California and New York, also maintain relatively low obesity rates at 26.3% and 27.1%, respectively. As we see, proactive health measures and public initiatives focusing on nutrition, fitness, and overall well-being can significantly help in curtailing the obesity trend.

The New England state of Vermont with a rate of 26.6%, and the southernmost state Florida, hosting a rate of 27.0%, also feature in the ten least obese states.

Rounding off this list are three states with comparable obesity rates: New Jersey (27.3%), Montana (28.3%), and Washington (28.3%). These regions also place a significant emphasis on promoting healthy lifestyles through various initiatives and access to outdoor activities.

States that are Least Obese:

  1. Colorado - 23.8%
  2. Hawaii - 25.0%
  3. Massachusetts - 25.2%
  4. California - 26.3%
  5. Vermont - 26.6%
  6. Florida - 27.0%
  7. New York - 27.1%
  8. New Jersey - 27.3%
  9. Montana - 28.3%
  10. Washington - 28.3%

Full Data Set

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Methodology