Obesity has become an epidemic in America. The new Obesity Prevalence Map from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that 35% or more of the adults in 16 states suffered from obesity. Most of these were in the South or Midwest. In some states, the figure was closer to 40%. Obesity has negative health care effects that range from cardiovascular disease to type 2 diabetes and certain forms of cancer. Another CDC study put the economic consequences of obesity at $147 billion per year in medical costs alone.
Using data from the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps (CHR), 24/7 Tempo identified the most obese state in the country. The states were ranked by the share of adults who are considered obese.
Though many factors, including genetics, diet and medical conditions, contribute to increased risk of obesity, regular physical activity is one of the best ways to help maintain a healthy weight. In states where obesity is more common, the share of adults who do not exercise regularly is usually higher than the 22.7% share of adults nationwide. Similarly, states with lower obesity rates typically have more physically active populations.
The state with the most obesity is Mississippi. Here are the details:
- Adult obesity rate: 39.1%
- Adults who don’t exercise: 30.4% (second highest)
- Adults with diabetes: 14.6% (second highest)
- Adults reporting poor or fair health: 22.1% (third highest)
Methodology: To determine America’s most obese state, 24/7 Tempo reviewed adult obesity rates from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute joint program’s 2021 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps report.
The adult obesity rate is defined as the share of adults 20 years and older who report a body mass index of 30 kg/m2 or higher. While the CHR report is from 2021, obesity rate figures published in the report are from 2017.
States were ranked based on the adult obesity rate. Additional information on the share of adults who report no leisure-time physical activity, the share of adults who are diagnosed with diabetes and the share of adults who report fair or poor health are also from the 2021 CHR.