Skip to comments.The Fattest States in America
Posted on 03/11/2014 10:58:10 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
Many Americans consider obesity one of the nation’s most important health issues. Many also battle themselves with the problem every day. According to a recent report, 27.1% of all Americans were obese last year, up from 26.2% the year before.
While many in the United States continue to struggle with their weight, the problem is more pronounced in the southeastern part of the country. Six of the 10 states with the highest obesity rates last year were located in that part of the country. Mississippi was the fattest state in America, with 35.4% of its residents considered obese. Based on figures from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 10 states with the highest obesity rates.
Poverty is a key predictor that can lead to obesity. All but one of the nations 10 most obese states had a higher poverty rate than the U.S. overall, and four of these states were among the top five poverty rates.
In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Dan Witters, research director for the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, said, There is no doubt that socioeconomic status is closely related with obesity. He added, Demographically, if you want to take a look and try and predict obesity on the ground inside the U.S., youll do so more with low income than [other major factors].
Similarly, lower educational attainment can also lead to higher odds of being obese. The majority of the states with the highest obesity rates were also among the bottom 10 in educational attainment, as measured by the percentage of adults with at least a high school diploma.
Witters also noted the importance of educational attainment. Obesity, he explained, is inversely related to educational achievement. A number of factors explain this relationship, he added, including greater health literacy, better access to health care and cultural norms.
Outside of socioeconomic factors, certain behaviors are more likely to be connected with higher rates of obesity, Witters noted. We found exercise is the top predictor of obesity, followed closely by smoking and by healthy eating.
Indeed, seven of the 10 states with the highest obesity rates also had among the 10 highest smoking rates. Similarly, residents in many of these states were among the least likely Americans to eat healthy or to exercise regularly.
High rates of obesity often come with serious health consequences. High cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes and heart disease are all health outcomes that can be tied to obesity, Witters told 24/7 Wall St.
In seven of the 10 states where obesity was most prevalent, residents were among the most likely people in the nation to have had a heart attack. Each of these 10 states was also among the top 10 for the percentage of people diagnosed with diabetes. In West Virginia and Mississippi, 16.6% and 15.9% of survey respondents had been diagnosed as diabetic, second and third most nationally.
Based on figures published by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 10 states with the highest percentage of the population that was classified as obese, measured by their self-reported height and weight. We also reviewed other relevant figures from the study, including data on healthy behavior, access and health outcomes. Additionally, we also considered data from the U.S. Census Bureaus 2012 American Community Survey on income and poverty. Data from the U.S. Department of Agricultures Economic Research Service on food access was also considered. Figures on heart disease deaths and life expectancy at birth, both as of 2010, are from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
These are Americas fattest states.
> Pct. obese: 30.5%
> Pct. with high blood pressure: 34.0% (9th most)
> Pct. exercise regularly: 50.7% (16th least)
> Poverty rate: 17.2% (15th highest)
More than three in 10 Oklahomans were considered obese last year. Poor eating habits may be one factor. Slightly more than half of the states residents said they ate adequate portions of fruits and vegetables last year, the worst in the nation. Less than 59% of Oklahomans said they ate healthy on a daily basis in 2013, also among the worst nationally. The states high obesity rate may partly explain the prevalence of heart-related ailments in the state. In 2010, there were 235.2 deaths per 100,000 state residents, more than in any state except for Mississippi and Alabama. Also, a greater proportion of Oklahomans reported having previously had a heart attack than residents in any other state last year.
> Pct. obese: 30.6%
> Pct. with high blood pressure: 35.0% (7th most)
> Pct. exercise regularly: 50.5% (tied for 14th least)
> Poverty rate: 19.4% (5th highest)
Unhealthy habits contributed to obesity levels among Kentucky residents. More than 30% of Kentuckians smoked cigarettes last year, the highest rate in the nation. Studies show that smoking can both discourage and decrease the effectiveness of physical activity. Poor eating habits also likely contributed to the states high obesity rate. Only 58.5% of state residents ate healthy all day, worst in the nation. Like many states with high obesity rates, Kentucky had some of the lowest income and highest poverty rates. The states $41,724 median household income was the fifth lowest in the United States, and nearly one in five residents lived below the poverty level last year.
> Pct. obese: 30.9%
> Pct. with high blood pressure: 31.8% (16th most)
> Pct. exercise regularly: 49.3% (7th least)
> Poverty rate: 16.3% (20th highest)
Ohio residents generally reported having good access to health care services. Last year, 82% had a personal doctor and more than 87% had health insurance, both among the best rates nationwide. While access to physicians typically is a key predictor of obesity rates, according to Gallups Dan Witters, Ohio still had one of the highest obesity rates in the country. Like most of the states with high obesity rates, many state residents were unable to engage in age-appropriate activities due to health concerns. Adding to the health problems already caused by the high obesity rate is the states high smoking rate. About one-quarter of the population were smokers as of last year, more than all but a handful of states.
> Pct. obese: 31.3%
> Pct. with high blood pressure: 36.0% (5th most)
> Pct. exercise regularly: 49.2% (6th least)
> Poverty rate: 17.9% (11th highest)
Given the states high obesity rate, it is perhaps not surprising that residents were more likely to suffer from a range of health problems. Last year, 36% of people surveyed reported having high blood pressure, while 29.4% of respondents said they had high cholesterol, both among the highest in the country. Also, nearly 15% of those surveyed suffered from diabetes, and more than 5% of people had previously had a heart attack, both especially high rates. Like several states struggling with obesity, educational attainment rates were poor in Tennessee. Just 85.1% of adults had at least a high school diploma in 2012, among the worst.
6. South Carolina
> Pct. obese: 31.4%
> Pct. with high blood pressure: 33.0% (12th most)
> Pct. exercise regularly: 49.7% (10th least)
> Poverty rate: 18.3% (9th highest)
South Carolina is another example of the close relationship between low income and obesity. More than 31% of state residents were obese, the sixth highest rate in the nation, while 18.3% lived below the poverty line last year, the ninth highest in the nation. Additionally, 21.3% of residents did not have enough money to buy food at all times last year, the highest percentage in the United States. Residents of the states suffered from numerous health problems often associated with being overweight. Some 33% of state residents had high blood pressure, among the worst in the nation, and 27.5% of residents suffered from recurring knee and leg pain, symptoms that can be linked to obesity.
> Pct. obese: 32.3%
> Pct. with high blood pressure: 36.8% (4th most)
> Pct. exercise regularly: 52.5% (25th most)
> Poverty rate: 19.8% (4th highest)
Arkansas residents suffered from more health problems linked to obesity than residents of most states last year. Nearly 37% of residents suffered from high blood pressure, and 13.4% of the population were diagnosed with diabetes, both among the highest rates in the nation. At least some of the blame lies in the residents unhealthy diets and poor habits. More than two out of every 10 people in the state smoked cigarettes, and only 54.6% of the population ate servings of fruits and vegetables at least four times a week, the sixth worst in the nation. As is the case with many states with high obesity rates, Arkansas residents earned less than the rest of country. The state had a poverty rate of nearly 20%, fourth-worst nationally, in 2012.
> Pct. obese: 32.7%
> Pct. with high blood pressure: 35.7% (6th most)
> Pct. exercise regularly: 50.5% (tied for 14th least)
> Poverty rate: 19.9% (3rd highest)
Louisiana has had among the highest obesity rates since 2008. More than 32% of residents were considered obese last year, a higher rate than all but three other states. Like many states with high obesity rates, Louisiana is a relatively poor state. A typical Louisiana household earned $42,944 in 2012, considerably less than the national median income of $51,371 that year. One factor that likely contributed to the states high obesity rate is the residents limited access to quality food. Nearly 10% of Louisiana residents had poor access to grocery stores and farmers markets, the fourth highest among all states. Additionally, 17% of adults in the state did not have a high school diploma, the fourth highest percentage in the country. Studies show that people who lack a complete high school education tend to make less knowledgeable decisions when it comes to health choices.
> Pct. obese: 34.3%
> Pct. with high blood pressure: 33.9% (10th most)
> Pct. exercise regularly: 46.5% (the least)
> Poverty rate: 12.0% (12th lowest)
Delawares population was the worst in the country at getting enough exercise, with just 46.5% reporting having exercised three times a week. This low level of physical activity may contribute to the states weight problem. Residents also did not eat particularly well, with less than 55% saying they ate enough fruits and vegetables at least four days a week last year, among the worst nationally. Unlike many other states with high obesity rates, Delaware residents were wealthier than most Americans in 2012. A typical Delaware household earned $58,415, among the most nationwide. The state, however, also boasts some of the highest health care costs in the country, which may explain residents poor health.
2. West Virginia
> Pct. obese: 34.4%
> Pct. with high blood pressure: 41.1% (the most)
> Pct. exercise regularly: 47.1% (2nd least)
> Poverty rate: 17.8% (13th highest)
West Virginia led the nation in several obesity-related health issues. As many as 41% of respondents reported having high blood pressure and 34% reported high cholesterol levels, the highest in the nation. West Virginians were also more likely to report chronic pain — whether in the neck, back, knee or leg — than residents of any other state last year. And 23% of residents cited other conditions causing recurring pain, also the most in the country. Like many of the most obese states, West Virginians were among the nations poorest residents, with a median household income of just $40,196 in 2012, third lowest nationally. Low incomes and prevalent obesity may partly explain why West Virginians rated their lives poorly in Gallups Life Evaluation Index — nearly half of all respondents said they were struggling last year, the most nationwide.
> Pct. obese: 35.4%
> Pct. with high blood pressure: 40.6% (2nd most)
> Pct. exercise regularly: 50.1% (11th least)
> Poverty rate: 24.2% (the highest)
Mississippi has been among Americas most obese states since Gallup started collecting data in 2008. The high obesity rate has had clear adverse effects on the health of the states residents. Chronic health issues often associated with obesity, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and headaches, were all common among state residents. Also, as is often the case with obese populations, Mississippi residents were more likely to suffer from diabetes. More than 16% of residents reported they had been diagnosed with diabetes as of last year, the second-highest rate nationally. Residents also had the lowest life expectancy in the nation, at just 75 years. Poor educational attainment, which may lead to poor health choices, also leads to relatively lower incomes. Just 82.3% of adults had a high school diploma in 2012, among the worst rates in the nation. And nearly one-quarter of Mississippi residents lived below the poverty line in 2012, worse than in every other state.
Who woulda thunk that poor is now fat...
You can’t be too rich or too thin.
Certain ethnic groups don’t do well on the American diet. Native Americans and Mexicans skew the results here in OK.
These states look like the list of least desirable states to live in as posted by Yahoo days ago.
I also noted that they are almost all Red states in the south. According to the elite journalist in the stuck up Northeastern cities southerners are still a bunch of stupid fat toothless hicks who have to many guns to much religion and to many God given rights. F’em.
“Poverty is a key predictor that can lead to obesity.”
I’m so poor that all I can do is eat and make babies.
I wait, I can’t afford to do either of those!
Ohio and Delaware surprise me. The rest of them don’t.
I don’t get the correlation with poor. We’re always hearing about the need for more money for food stamps and the school lunch program (which now includes breakfast and in some areas, dinner as well).
You’d think the poor would be the thinnest because liberals always claim that they don’t have any money for food.
—I recall a comment from an Asian Indian source that is amazing that in the U.S. , obesity is the leading health problem among the poor-—
I was expecting to see Alabama in the top five and we didn’t even make the top ten!
We’ll try harder next time...grits with extra butter, BBQ with extra white bread, Spinach sandwiches made with four slices of Colby, and pancake stacks with bacon in between the cakes and drenched in real maple syrup and...
Long distance information give me Memphis Tennessee
And so they say Memphis is one of the “fattest” cities, must have something to do with barbecue, spare ribs but El Paso, the border city is usually up there too.
Obesity is linked to poverty, and eating the wrong foods, eating too much, and not working or exercising. Blame food stamps and Democrats.
Makes me think of that McDonald’s diet guy, he walked 45 minutes a day. I wonder if he skipped the sodas, that is my downfall, I try to skip or drink very little of the sodas.
“Ohio and Delaware surprise me.”
Maybe it’s all that skyline chili they’re eating in Cincinatti. :)
Skyline’s menu includes their signature dishes: cheese coneys (a hot dog topped with Skyline Chili, mustard, onions, and cheese), and 3-ways (spaghetti topped with Skyline Chili and cheese); 4-ways (choice of beans or onions added), and 5-ways (beans and onions both added). Additional menu items include burritos made with Skyline Chili (including the Chilito), classic and Greek-style salads, french fries, cheese fries, garlic bread, cheese bread, and baked potatoes topped with Skyline Chili.
I’ve had that Cincinnati Chili, very good, chili on top of spaghetti, cheese is great on top too but that must add on the calories.
RE: Obesity is linked to poverty
Tell that to the Africans ( not African Americans, Africans )....
Later they complained about the fundraisers and taxes for new gymnasiums so the children would get the exercise they would have gotten anyway if they kept walking to school instead of riding the bus.
Makes sense, actually. Poor people fill themselves up on empty calories so they don’t feel hungry, but it doesn’t work because they don’t get the nutrients which keep them from being hungry. So they eat more, cheaper, higher-fat foods.
McDonald’s double cheeseburger: 99 cents
McDonald’s grilled chicken sandwich: 4.99
We have been told that obesity is a problem.
People are now worried only about those other people who are fat. Best to leave it alone.
If the First Wookie really cared, she'd kick the president's arse for dramatically increasing the food stamp program.
Hey, we just have better food in the South. Lay off.
Actually it is more expensive to “eat well”. Prepared foods and fast foods tend to be cheaper and more filling. And even among non-prepared foods the better selections are much more expensive. Decent fruit is quite expensive.
So it’s not a case of eating more as it is the quality of what you eat that contributes, more than anything, to obesity. If McDonalds is running a special on fish sandwiches at a couple bucks each, that’s where the poor will gravitate.
While I see some political spin in a handful of the comments, this isn’t a political issue.
Source: Welfare Statistics | Statistic Brain
Map of which states have the lowest welfare rate as a percentage of population (lowest = 1st place) to states with the highest welfare participation rate as a percentage of population (50 = highest).
Finally, we can consider food stamps (SNAP) which technically isn't welfare as it isn't run by the department of health and human services and instead is run by the department of agriculture under the farm subsidy program. Here is a graph with the percentage of population receiving food stamps by state.
Percent of State Population Participating in SNAP Program, FY2011
Source: Author's calculations using U.S. Department of Agriculture data.
Proposed rules give states more power to fight food stamp fraud | CSG Knowledge Center
In case anyone is interested, the least obese states (percent of adult population labeled as obese) are:
Montana: 19.6 percent
Colorado: 20.4 percent
Nevada: 21.1 percent
Minnesota: 22.0 percent
Massachusetts: 22.2 percent
Connecticut: 23.2 percent
New Mexico: 23.5 percent
California: 23.6 percent
Hawaii: 23.7 percent
New York: 24.0 percent
“Certain ethnic groups dont do well on the American diet. Native Americans and Mexicans skew the results here in OK.”
The same can be said for blacks in Mississippi.
I wouldn’t call Ohio, West Virginia, or Delaware ‘southeast states’.
I agree, well stated.
It’s a pity that I can eat fresh/steamed vegetables or other healthy entrees, good for you but if I really want to feel full, unfortunately, it will often be something with a lot of white bread. The local convenience store has 2 hotdogs for $2, if I even eat that much, doesn’t sound like much, I can feel stuffed.
Wonder how many of those obese are unemployed and food stamps.
The late comedian Sam Kinison explained that pretty well when discussing thin homosexuals.
“Who wants to eat when you’ve had a **** in your mouth all day.”
Baloney, hogwash and nonsense.
Eating out, even fast foods, and prepared foods are MUCH more expensive than home-cooked meals prepared from staple ingredients.
You can get 25 pounds of beans and 25 pounds of rice at Costco for <$30. You can eat quite a long time on that. Add some limited vegetables and fruit and you're good to go at a very low cost. Diet will be boring, but quite nutritious.
"Decent fruit" more often refers to the appearance than the nutritional value.
Yep, it is the preppers and big conservative families that buy the big bags of rice, beans, and grits. The EMT crowd buys the expensive stuff.
A few years back, we took a fun little road trip to New Orleans. After a week or so my wife and I were craving a salad. After all of the gravy and rich sauces, we were desperate for something green.
We asked the attendant at our hotel if she might recommend a place with a good salad. She thought for a few seconds and suggested Wendys and then repeated an old saying: “here in Louisiana, we live to eat, not eat to live.”
For the sixth consecutive year, global well-being improvement leader Healthways and world-leading management consulting firm Gallup have released their analysis of the state of well-being across the United States. The analysis is based on data from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index®, a definitive measure and empiric database of real-time changes in well-being throughout the world.
More than 178,000 interviews nationwide fueled the 2013 analysis, which examined Americans’ perceptions on topics such as physical and emotional health, healthy behaviors, work environment, social and community factors, financial security, and access to necessities such as food, shelter and healthcare to create a composite well-being rank for each state.
Launched in 2008, the Well-Being Index provides unmatched, in-depth insight into the well-being of populations. Gallup conducts 500 telephone interviews a day with Americans to gather their perceptions of well-being, for a resulting sample that represents an estimated 95 percent of all U.S. households. In 2013, Gallup and Healthways extended the reach of the Well-Being Index beyond the United States; global leaders now have the ability to benchmark the well-being of their country against the results of roughly 140 countries around the world.
The full “State of American Well-Being: 2013 State, Community and Congressional District Analysis,” as well as state-level reports, will be available online in April. Look for the “State of Global Well-Being” reports this summer.
i know! it used to be that portly was a sign of wealth...
Theory is that it is cheaper/free to get processed high fat, high salt, high unhealthy foods than it is to buy fresh vegetables, fruits and dairy products. Some areas are probably so unsafe people don’t grocery shop much. How would they get to the farmer’s markets that many of us have available?
People are most likely depressed/stressed due to their situations and eat for psychological relief.
Government cheese, not race, is the issue. Three of the top ten states (OK,WV, KY) have white populations above the national average. The great grandparents of these people, irrespective of ancestry, likely grew most of their own food. Root, hog, or die worked then. It would work now except that no welfare plan has ever been repealed through the political process.
Hmmm, I thought for sure my state of Wisconsin would be on that list.
Packer season tickets are worth an extra 150 on women in Green Bay.
Beans and rice were mentioned, great dish is red beans and rice but it appears that has a fairly good kick of calories all the same. http://www.fitday.com/webfit/nutrition/All_Foods/Pasta_and_Cereal_Grains/Rice_with_red_beans.html
Warmer that way too.
Cold weather makes you burn calories just to stay alive.
I think that’s why you don’t see many cold weather states on the fat list.
When TSHTF and it becomes a LOT of work to stay warm in winter, the entitlement army will stream south.
Southern cooking is wonderful, and unapologetically rich, and the tea is sweet. Also, it’s too hot outside, and it’s air-conditioned inside.
There, do I get some grant money for figuring that out?
Hey, I notice that New York is #35 in “well-being”. Thank goodness they stopped drinking Big Gulps. It’s really paying off.
Yeah, I know. There must be a difference in the water, or something to do with the latitude, or maybe the effects of global warming on select groups of impoverished people. African malnutrition can’t possibly be because of their peaceful, democratic governments, their work ethics, or high ideals regarding human life, dignity, rights, not to mention principles of prosperity, coupled with high regard for the well being of posterity. With all they have going for them, just think how fat and happy they would be on our food stamp program.
Technically, both West Virginia and Delaware are "southeast states."
But then again, the District of Columbia is also technically in the "southeast."
If that even comes close to the truth, we're a very different country from what we were a few decades back.
And I believe studies show in the ‘60s, cerca to then, we were a much leaner nation. So, maybe one difference of many would be processed foods.
I also see a bit of what is called Appalachia on here. Not sure what the significance of that would be. I have seen some of the so-called “backwaters” but on the other hand, every state has their rural areas.
Non-Hispanic black women had the greatest prevalence (39.2%), followed by non-Hispanic black men (31.6%), Hispanic women (29.4%), Hispanic men (27.8%), non-Hispanic white men (25.4%), and non-Hispanic white women (21.8%) (Table 1).
Had a friend who moved to Ohio...Sometime later he called and said he felt like he was on the cast of HeHaw, except everyone was fat....He attributed it to cold nasty winters where everyone just grazes for 5 months at a time...After about 5 years he moved back.
RIghtwardHo was onto something, though he didn’t get it quite right.
The problem is carbs. Carbs are cheap and filling even when you buy at a high-end store, and if you’re buying snacks at a convenience store more than 90 percent of what’s on the shelf is some form of starch.
WIC buys a lot of breakfast cereal and bread. If you buy soda with your food stamps, you can get more of that for your buck than you can milk or juice.
And even if you go with your recommended beans and rice, Mr. Logan, you’re still looking at a blood-sugar-spiking blast of starchy goodness hitting the bloodstream.
If you want to avoid carbs, you eat more fat and protein. More dairy, more eggs, more meat, and more vegetables. The green leafy vegetables are cheap enough, but not enough so to balance out the budgetary effects of the meat, eggs, and dairy.