The Most and Least Obese States in America—Ranked!
When it comes to your belly, the state you’re in might have something to do with the state you’re in.
Living in the South or the Midwest might be increasing your risk of weight gain. That’s where the states with the highest obesity rates—including Arkansas, West Virginia, and Minnesota—are located, according to a new report by the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation and Trust for America’s Health. And those aren’t just trivial numbers: when the rate of obesity in your state increases, your own personal risk may increase as well. Recent research at Harvard has shown that your social circle—the folks you interact with on a daily basis—can dramatically impact your own health and fitness. In fact, just having a close friend who becomes obese raises your own risk by 57 percent. (Having a sibling or spouse who’s obese also increases your risk, but to a lesser degree.) In other words, when the folks around you get fat, your own belly starts to expand, too.
Twenty-two states now have obesity rates that top 30 percent, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey. And while much of the country is holding steady, obesity rates are growing in five states: Ohio, Minnesota, Kansas, New Mexico and Utah. The editors at Eat This, Not That! magazine took a deeper look at the numbers. Here’s where your state ranked, and what you need to know. And if you struggle with your weight gain, take control of your health with these essential 25 best weight-loss tips—ever!
Note: 1 = Highest rate of adult obesity, 51 = lowest rate of adult obesity.
Arkansas [35.9% Obese]
The 29th largest state is, unfortunately, the #1 biggest. According to the study: “Arkansas’s adult obesity rate is currently 35.9 percent, up from 21.9 percent in 2000 and from 17.0 percent in 1995.” Digging deeper into the stats, Eat This, Not That! sees a whopping 20% of kids aged 10 to 17 are obese in Arkansas, as are 41.7% of adults aged 45-64.
West Virginia [35.7% Obese]
Last year, West Virginia was #1, tied with Mississippi. But don’t think missing the top slot is a victory. Twenty-five years ago, the obesity rate in West Virginia was just 13.7 percent. And West Virginia has the highest rate of diabetes in the entire country, at 14.1 percent.
Mississippi [35.5% Obese]
Down two slots to #3—after tying for first last year—Mississippi is still one of the three states to earn the dubious honor of having an obesity rate over 35%. And says the report: “Mississippi had the highest reported percentage of inactivity among adults at 31.6 percent.” C’mon Mississippi (and anyone wanting to lose weight)! Try these quick and easy 20 Best Exercises to Blast Belly Fat!
Louisiana [34.9% Obese]
The sad news here is not only the high ranking, but how much worse it’s expected to get. The state had 69,400 cases of obesity-related cancer in 2010—with a projected 170,092 in 2030. And hypertension rates are expected to soar to 1.1 million by 2030, which would mean ¼ of the current population.
Alabama [33.5% Obese]
Alabama’s obesity rate has been climbing since the 1990s, and you can tell by the adult hypertension rate—40.3%! That’s second in the nation, after West Virginia.
Oklahoma [33.0% Obese]
The Sooner state might improve its ranking sooner than others, thanks to local health initiatives, including a grant announced in August to bring more doctors into rural areas, and an award from the Obama administration providing funding for health centers, which can advocate for healthier eating.
Indiana [32.7% Obese]
Indiana consistently ranks poorly for heart disease and smoking rates—and the government knows it. They just launched The Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0, providing healthcare to the state’s more impoverished communities.
Ohio [32.6% Obese]
Despite its high ranking, there are some mildly encouraging stats—rates of obesity for 10-17-year-olds dropped a percentage point from 2007 to now (from 18.5 to 17.4), one of the few line-graphs that show a downward trend for the state. In fact, adult obesity overall increased.
North Dakota [32.2% Obese]
This state needs more people like Shelly Mack, a food service director and dietician for Jamestown public schools, who implemented National Farm to School month early, this month instead of October, because the local fresh produce was at its peak. “We are doing this for the kids,” she told a wire news service. “We are trying to fight against obesity and promote food security by using more local sources.”
South Carolina [32.1% Obese]
Nine of the ten most obese states in the country were in the south, and South Carolina has one of the highest obesity rates for children ages 10-17: 21.5%, second amongst all states. It’s a shame, because the state is home to plenty of healthy food, including the Charleston Tea Plantation, where we went to develop our brand new weight-loss plan, the 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Diet and Cleanse! Test panelists lost up to 10 pounds in just one week!
Texas [31.9% Obese]
The proud home of the Cowboys should think more about the little boys and girls because the state has a terrible 19.1% obesity rate among kids aged 10 to 17. (That’s one reason why local politicians are currently arguing over the state’s school lunch program.) As those kids grow up, only arthritis is expected to decline, with heart disease expected to grow 4.5 times by 2030, and obesity-related cancers to more than double during that time.
Kentucky [31.6% Obese]
Another Southern state, another shocking childhood stat: 18% of high-schoolers are obese in Kentucky, ranking first (or should we say, last) in the entire country. No wonder heart disease is expected to explode to nearly 5 times—from 264,000 to 1.2 million!—by 2030.
Kansas [31.3% Obese]
Home to delicious barbecue, fried chicken and other fatty homegrown favorites, Kansas is also a giant farmer’s market, but 41.4% of adults consume fruits less than once daily. And of the five states that had increases in adult obesity in the last year, Kansas was one. So smarter food choices are key. Should you buy kale instead of spinach? Is High Fructose Corn Syrup worse than sugar? To arm yourself against the food marketers—and make the right choice every time—read these eye-opening 24 nutrition myths—busted!
[tie] Tennessee and Wisconsin [31.2% Obese]
This random pair—the home of Nashville and Jack Daniels in the South vs. America’s Dairyland in the Midwest—has at least one thing in common, unfortunately: obesity rates more than 10 percentage points higher than the healthiest states on this list. Tennessee ranks as the 9th most inactive state.
Iowa [30.9% Obese]
Home of one of the most famous State Fairs—where you’ll find the deep-fried everything—the state could stand to consume more local produce, because its population, unfortunately, eats less than one fruit (39.8%) and less than one veggie (26.9%) a day. In comparison, in New Hampshire, a mere 17.6% eat less than one veg.
[tie] Delaware and Michigan [30.7% Obese]
Obesity is tied directly to socio-economics, so local hopes are high that the recent $18 million provided to Michigan healthcare centers, under the Affordable Care Act, will foster more education about healthy eating. Meanwhile, hypertension is the big problem in Delaware—they rank 10th in the country, with rates projected to leap from 187K to 245K by 2030.
Georgia [30.5% Obese]
Some encouraging signs here, for future generations of peach-lovers: A CDC analysis reported a decrease in the obesity rate among 2- to 4-year-olds, from 14.8% to 13.2%.
[tie] Missouri, Nebraska and Pennsylvania [30.2% Obese]
Twenty-two states have an obesity rate of 30% or higher, and these are the final three, proving that our obesity epidemic isn’t just confined to the deep South.
South Dakota [29.8% Obese]
As in Georgia, obesity rates for kids aged 2-4 declined between 2008 and 2011, from 16.2% to 15.2%, but if the state doesn’t keep up the good work, obesity rates are projected to quadruple to 222,609 by 2030. Keep it up, parents!
[tie] Alaska and North Carolina [29.7% Obese]
Two wildly different cultures, two very similar obesity rates, with one exception: When broken down, the study found that “American Indian/Alaska Natives have the highest adult obesity rate, 54 percent, of any racial or ethnic group.”
Maryland [29.6% Obese]
The mid-Atlantic state is in the middle of the pack. We partially credit all the seafood, though choose wisely with the help of our report on the best fish to eat.
Wyoming [29.5% Obese]
Life isn’t better on the range: Obesity in Wyoming is up nearly 10% since 2014, and twice as many residents are obese than in 1995. It’s easy to see why: According to the Wyoming Department of Health, one in five state residents get no leisure-time exercise, and only 17% eat the recommended four daily servings of fruits and vegetables.
Illinois [29.3% Obese]
Obama’s home state doesn’t have much to boast about on the health front: Although obesity rates stayed relatively stable over 2014, only 12% of state residents were obese in 1990.
[tie] Arizona and Idaho [28.9% Obese]
These states are tied in the middle of the pack, but there are some worrisome trends: In Arizona, nearly 20% of 10- to 17-year olds are obese, putting it at 7th in the nation; in Idaho, cases of obesity-related heart disease are projected to reach nearly 400,000 in 15 years, nearly four times the cases in 2010. As for their biggest export—the potato—Eat This, Not That! recommends it as an unheralded weight loss tool, along with these other best carbs for weight loss!
Virginia [28.5% Obese]
Overall, the state’s obesity rate dropped two percentage points from 2013, but that’s not completely good news: More than half of Northern Virginians are overweight or obese, according to a report by the Northern Virginia Health Foundation.
New Mexico [28.4% Obese]
Obesity rates stayed relatively stable over 2014, but they can’t come down fast enough: New Mexico has the 11th-highest number of diabetes cases in the country, and more than a quarter-million cases are projected by 2030.
Maine [28.2% Obese]
Vacationland needs to get moving: Twice as many of Maine’s residents are obese than in 1995, and more than a third have high blood pressure, up from 20% in 1990.
Oregon [27.9% Obese]
Despite what you see on Portlandia, the state’s not full of hipsters making artisan pickles in mason jars: Oregon has the highest percentage of physically active adults in the whole country, at 83.7%! Get inspired by them to get moving—just don’t make these worst fitness mistakes that prevent weight loss!
Nevada [27.7% Obese]
Not everyone’s eating the all-night buffets: The high schoolers’ obesity rates have remained the same, although heart disease is predicted to jump from 144,554 to 702,508 by 2030!
Minnesota [27.6% Obese]
Home to the Vikings, Twins and Timberwolves, Minnesota citizens love their sports. But it seems that they might enjoy watching them more than sweating it out themselves. (Just under a third of the state is obese with rates among the men coming in slightly higher than the ladies.) That might be due to the cold weather, that drives everyone indoors.
New Hampshire [27.4% Obese]
Steadily expanding waistlines in The Granite State have landed New Hampshire the 37th spot on this obesity list. But oddly enough, the state’s rate of hypertension — one of the most common obesity-related conditions — has remained fairly stable over the past 24 years.
Washington [27.3% Obese]
For a state that gets about 30 inches of rain per year — which can seriously cut down on outdoor activity time — Washington’s slightly better than average ranking is impressive, but there’s still room for improvement. Washington’s hypertension rate hovers around 30 percent and by 2030, the study anticipants over 1.7 million people will suffer from the obesity-related condition.
[tie] New York and Rhode Island [27.0% Obese]
New York and it’s tiny Northeastern cousin have tied for the unofficial title of the 12th trimmest state in the nation. Their rates for childhood obesity are also neck and neck, with just under 11 percent of high schoolers considered to be obese — a stat that’s held steady in both states since 2003.
New Jersey [26.9% Obese]
Though The Garden State may have been home to the gym-loving cast of The Jersey Shore, it seems most other people living there take their health and fitness routine less seriously—and it’s evident by the state’s climbing obesity rate. Between 1994 and 2014, it has more than doubled, going from 12.3 percent to 26.9 percent. You can channel Pauly D without the unhealthy tan, thanks to these 11 eating habits that uncover your abs!
Montana [26.4% Obese]
All those open fields do a body good. The Treasure State is the 10th trimmest in the nation, with 25.2 percent of its men and 23.4 percent its women classified as obese. And when it comes to their current adult diabetes rate, they also score on the low end with just under 9 percent.
Connecticut [26.3% Obese]
Connecticut citizens may love to play the slots—the state’s home to the second largest casino in the United States—but they sure aren’t taking any chances when it comes to their health. Just 9.2 percent of Connecticut citizens suffer from diabetes and a mere 12 percent of their high schoolers suffer from obesity, which is a bit beneath the national average of 14 percent.
Florida [26.2% Obese]
While Florida should be proud of it’s ranking as the state with the eighth lowest adult obesity rate in the nation, it’s heart disease and hypertension rates are trending upward at a concerning pace. By the year 2030, nearly 2.5 million of the Sunshine State’s citizens are projected to have diabetes and 5.2 million are expected to suffer from hypertension, according to the report. And here’s a fact: oranges aren’t the state’s healthiest export. Find out which citrus fruit is even better for blasting fat in this list of 15 best fruits for rapid weight loss.
Utah [25.7% Obese]
According to a report that looked at the most tweeted about activities in nearly every state, Utah citizens love hitting the slopes, so it makes sense that they’d be among the fittest folks in the nation. They’re also among the healthiest. In fact, Utah has the lowest diabetes rate in the U.S.A, with just 7.1 percent of the population living with the condition. Unfortunately, the state also saw an increase in obesity this year.
Vermont [24.8% Obese]
Known for its plush snow and hike-worthy mountains, Vermont residents are clearly tapping their natural resources to shed off the pounds. Just under 25 percent of those living in the Northeastern state are obese, earning them the title of the sixth trimmest state in the nation. However, it’s not all good news: Cases of heart disease and obesity-related cancer cases in Vermont are anticipated to trend upward in the coming years, according to the report.
California [24.7% Obese]
Not only are California’s older residents among the leanest in the nation, a 2013 CDC report found that California was among one of the 18 states that experienced a decline in obesity rates among 2- to 4-year-olds from low-income families. Its celebs are fit, too, thanks to diet experts that share their #1 weight loss tip!
Massachusetts [23.3% Obese]
Massachusetts has the highest rate of insured residents in the nation so it makes sense that they’d be among the trimmest. Despite the fact that their statewide obesity rate has risen 6.9 percent since 2011 from 16.4 percent to 23.3, Massachusetts is still holding onto one of the lowest ranking spots.
Hawaii [22.1% Obese]
The third fittest state is Hawaii, where the current adult obesity rate is 22.1 percent which is, in fact, down a bit from 2012! While 26.8 percent of men living in Hawaii are overweight only about 20 percent of women face the same health issue.
District of Columbia [21.7% Obese]
Washington, DC may best known for its museums and educational sites, but residents are clearing making health and fitness a priority. The District of Columbia now has the second lowest adult obesity rate in the nation — and their kids are fit, too! The current childhood obesity rate is a low 13.1 percent.
Colorado [21.3% Obese]
According to a recent Cornell University study, running is the most popular pastime in Colorado. With that in mind, we weren’t surprised to learn that the state’s adult obesity rate is the lowest in the nation, holding steady at 21.3 percent. And read here for Colorado’s own superstar runner Eric Orton’s best tips for running for your butt (and belly!) off!