Obesity has become an epidemic in America. The new Adult Obesity Prevalence Map from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that in 16 states, 35% or more of the adults had obesity. Most of these states were in the South or Midwest. In some states, the figure was closer to 40%. The most obese state in America is Mississippi.
Obesity has negative health effects, increasing the risk of a range of diseases and conditions, from cardiovascular disease to Type 2 diabetes and certain forms of cancer. Obesity also has economic consequences. A CDC study put the medical costs of obesity at $147 billion per year.
Using data from the 2021 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute joint program, 24/7 Tempo identified the most obese state in the country. States were ranked by the adult obesity rate with figures from 2017. All other data came from the CHR.
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.
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. (These are America’s laziest states.)
While the obesity rate in states ranges from just over 22% to nearly 40%, obesity rates can be far higher more locally. In the most obese county, the adult obesity rate is close to 60%. These are America’s most obese counties.