Obesity is considered an epidemic in the United States. Obesity is when an adult has a BMI of 30 or greater. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 39.8% of Americans were obese in 2015-2016, approximately 93 million people.
Bodyweight is the result of several factors such as overeating, lack of physical activity, genetics, culture, and metabolism. Obesity is linked to many health complications and diseases, such as early death, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, certain types of cancer, and stroke. Thus, obesity prevalence is a significant factor in determining which states are the healthiest.
Obesity in the United States
There are some groups with higher obesity rates, according to the CDC. Overall, men and women with college degrees had a lower obesity prevalence than those who did not have a higher education. The prevalence of obesity was highest among middle-aged adults, ages 45-54 years old, at 37.6%, compared to young adults, ages 18-24, at 18.9%. Additionally, the prevalence of obesity is significantly higher among the non-Hispanic Black population than the non-Hispanic white or Hispanic populations.
All U.S. states reported obesity rates above 20% in 2019. Twelve states reported obesity rates above 35%. The Midwest and South had the highest obesity prevalence, with 33.9% and 33.3%, respectively.
Most Obese U.S. States
According to the CDC's most recent obesity numbers, the state with the highest obesity rate is Mississippi, with an obesity rate of 40.8%. Mississippi also has the shortest life expectancy among all states at 74.5 years. West Virginia has the second-highest obesity prevalence at 39.7% and the second-lowest life expectancy of 74.8 years.
Consumer Protect also released a Couch Potato Index, which ranks the 50 states by the percentage of adults who participate in zero physical activity, according to the CDC. Mississippi is second on this list, with 33.2% of adults engaging in zero physical activity. West Virginia ranks number eight on this list at 31.6%.
The least obese state in the United States are the District of Columbia and Colorado, with an obesity prevalence of 23.8% each. Coloradans are considered to be some of the most physically active people, with plenty of outdoor space and activities and better eating habits. Hawaii has the second-lowest obesity rate and the highest life expectancy in the U.S. of 81.5 years.