The 5 Worst States for Obesity and the 5 Best
Last Updated: Sep 13, 2016
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At least 20 percent of the adult population in each U.S. state is obese, according to new research released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This means that at least one in five adults per U.S. state -- or 36.5 percent of total Americans -- struggles with obesity. And the numbers are steadily increasing: Back in 1999, 30 percent of Americans were obese. Starting with the worst, here’s a list of the five best and five worst states for obesity in the U.S. according to the CDC’s latest Adult Obesity Prevalence Map released on September 2, 2016.
WORST #5: KANSAS
Over 34 percent of adults in Kansas reported being obese. That’s almost a 3 percent increase since 2014, and a 5 percent increase since 2011, according to the CDC. Those who are obese have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or higher. Health conditions associated with obesity include heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer.
Related: The CDC's 2015 Obesity Prevalence Map
WORST #4: MISSISSIPPI (TIE)
Mississippi tied with two other states for the second-place spot on our list. Since 2014, the rate increased by a tenth of a percent, from 35.5 to 35.6. Unfortunately, obesity isn’t Mississippi’s only issue. The America’s Health Rankings 2015 Annual Report named Mississippi the worst state for adolescent immunization, low birthrate, infant mortality rate, cardiovascular deaths and premature death. However, the state did get a nod for having the lowest disparity in health status between adults with a high school degree and adults without one.
WORST #3: WEST VIRGINIA (TIE)
Like Mississippi, 35.6 percent of West Virginia adults reported being obese. Though the prevalence of obesity is high in the Mountain State, at least West Virginians haven't taken to the bottle. The America’s Health Rankings report named West Virginia healthiest in the country when it comes to binge drinking.
Related: Can Walking Be Enough to Reduce Obesity?
WORST #2: ALABAMA (TIE)
In Alabama, 35.6 percent of adults reported being obese in 2015. In their report from that year, the CDC also collected percentages based on race and ethnicity. Although non-Hispanic black adults had the highest obesity rates in the country at 38.1 percent, that number was down 10 percent from the rate the CDC provided for the years 2011-2014. Regionally, the North American South had the highest obesity rate in the country, at 31.2 percent.
Related: LIVESTRONG.COM: A Weight-Loss Plan for Morbidly Obese Women
WORST #1: LOUISIANA
More Louisiana adults reported being obese than any other state, topping our list at 36.2 percent. Louisiana has seen a steady increase in obese adults over the past few years, almost three percentage points up from 33.4 back in 2011. And people who struggle with obesity pay more for healthcare -- spending an average of $1,429 more on medical bills per year than those who are not obese. Read on for the five states with the lowest obesity rates and some CDC-recommended tips on how to prevent and manage obesity.
Related: 10 Ways Changing How You Think Promotes Weight Loss
BEST #5: CALIFORNIA
The Golden State slid into our top five roundup, with 24.2 percent of adults reporting being obese. Healthy eating is a major factor when it comes to obesity prevention. According to the CDC, it can reduce the onset of heart disease, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes. A healthy eating pattern includes a variety of vegetables, fruits, grains (at least half of which are whole grains), low-fat dairy products, proteins and oils. It also limits saturated and trans fats, sugar and sodium.
Related: USDA: ChooseMyPlate.gov
BEST #4: MONTANA
In Montana, 23.6 percent of adults reported being obese, making it our fourth best state for obesity. According to the State of Obesity, 2015 was the first year in the last decade that any state saw a statistically significant decrease in obesity rates. Montana was one of four states that experienced this drop; the other three were Minnesota, New York and Ohio. Knowing about caloric balance, or the number of calories you intake compared to the number of calories your body burns in a day, can also help you achieve weight loss. You can start tracking your calorie intake with a food diary, or you can use LIVESTRONG.COM’s MyPlate Calorie Tracker.
Related: LIVESTRONG.COM: MyPlate Calorie Tracker
BEST #3: HAWAII
The Aloha State ranks third on our list, with 22.7 percent of adults reporting being obese. The America’s Health Rankings Annual Report named Hawaii the healthiest state in 2015, due to low rates of preventable hospitalizations, few poor mental health days and (you guessed it) a low prevalence of obesity. Hawaii has consistently ranked in the top six since the report's launch in 1990.
BEST #2: DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
While it isn’t a state, Washington, D.C.’s obesity rate definitely warrants mention, beating 49 states out at 22.1 percent. Interestingly, the percentage of non-Hispanic white adults who reported being obese in the country’s capitol was staggeringly low, at 9.9 percent. The second lowest percent of non-Hispanic white adults with obesity was found in Hawaii, where 17.9 percent had obesity.
Related: The 4 Barriers to Fat Loss
BEST #1: COLORADO
Colorado had fewer obese adults than any other state (or U.S. capital), with only 20.2 percent of adults reporting being obese in 2015. It also had the smallest amount of adults who reported being physically inactive, according to the America’s Health Rankings report. That’s a pretty big deal considering that physical inactivity is responsible for one in 10 deaths every year. According to the CDC, maintaining a healthy lifestyle hugely contributes to obesity prevention. They recommend that adults get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week, which can include anything that gets your heart pumping. Simple activities such as walking, running, swimming and biking could drastically decrease your risk of developing obesity.
Related: The 10 Most Deadly States for Cancer
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Do you or anyone you love struggle with obesity? How has obesity, even if you don't have it, affect your life? What do you do to monitor your weight? If you are trying to prevent weight gain, what are some ways that you do it? Let us know in the comments section below!
Related: The 21 Most Lethal Places to Live in America
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