Life expectancy in the U.S. has dropped a full year in the first half of 2020 — the biggest decrease since World War II — largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The disease has had a large impact on older Americans and people with certain health conditions, including obesity. Obesity is a major risk factor for COVID-19 complications and death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Obesity, which is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) over 30, is associated with a higher risk for developing several serious conditions, including heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer — which are some of the leading causes of death in the U.S.
24/7 Tempo reviewed county-level health data from the 2020 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute joint program, to identify the most obese county in every state.
Obesity is a complex health concern with a wide range of causes that include genetics, access to healthy food, and environment, among other factors. Partially as a result, obesity rates can range considerably from state to state as well as between counties of the same state.
In Mississippi, 36.8% of adults are obese, the largest share of any state in the country. In Mississippi’s most overweight county, the adult obesity rate is 45.4%, much higher than the national adult obesity rate of 29.0%. On the other end of the spectrum, in Colorado, the state with the lowest adult obesity rate of 21.8%, the adult obesity rate is below the national average in most counties.
Health experts have pointed to several lifestyle factors that are likely contributing to the excess weight problem, among them a sedentary lifestyle and the consumption of high-calorie diets, including large sugary beverages — here are 45 popular fast-food single items with more than 1,000 calories.
To determine the most obese county in every state, 24/7 Tempo reviewed county-level obesity rates from the 2020 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute joint program. The share of adults who don’t exercise and the share of the population over 20 with diabetes also came from the CHR. Median household income and population data came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey 5-year averages.