For three of the last four years, the US state with the lowest percentage of obese people has remained the same. The state which took first place in 2013 is now at No. 3. This sort of data shows that people are generally consistent when it comes to caring for their bodies, and perhaps also that good habits (or bad) are culturally ingrained in parts of the States.
When most of the world outside of America thinks about the country and its citizens, a few stereotypes come to mind - one in particular is that of a fast food nation, where everyone overeats and gets fat. Of course this isn't entirely true; that’s why it’s called a “stereotype” and not “fact”, after all. Still, Americans do generally have a reputation for overeating and there's an undeniable obesity problem particularly among the country's young people. Ready meals, fast food and too much screen time are often cited as contributing factors to this problem. Many American restaurants serve portions well above the average and with salt and sugar contents that exceed the daily recommended allowance of either. Indeed, “American-sized portions” has become a derogatory term for obtrusively large servings in other countries.
So naturally, when the topic is obese Americans, we think of the states most likely to house (or feed) such people. But what about the states that are kicking the trend? Which are the thinnest US states in 2014 according to a Gallup-Healthways poll? Read on to see if you guessed correctly.
8 Rhode Island: 24.3% obese
In 2012 a lower percentage of this state’s citizens achieved 300 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise than in New Jersey, yet the latter came in with a slightly higher rate of obesity in 2014. Is this a difference that has only emerged in the last two years? Have people in Rhode Island stepped things up since? Or is it simply a difference in diet, and other lifestyle choices? One significant difference in the 2012 study was a more than 3% difference in the amount of TV watched, with New Jerseyites watching 3.5% more television than Rhode Islanders. Television, an opiate for the mass...ive?
7 Arizona: 24.1% obese
Their Grand Canyon is not the only natural beauty where walkers and hikers can get a workout. Summit Trail, a popular walking path, is on Phoenix Mountains Preserve’s Piestewa Peak. Its spectacular views attract, on average, 4,000 to 10,000 hikers per week. Many of these must be locals who know that the dry weather is perfect for hiking — you don't get too humid or sweaty. In 2012 the CDC reported more than one-third of the populace here ate the recommended number of servings of fruit per day, and almost one-quarter ate all their veggies. Perhaps if they beefed this up they could be closer to number one, but Arizona’s doing all right.
6 Utah: 23.9% obese
Less than 12% of people in this state ate the three recommended daily servings of vegetables in the week leading up to the CDC’s 2012 study. Still, at sixth-thinnest state in the nation, these people must be doing something right! Gluttony is a deadly sin, after all….
5 California: 23.1% obese
The golden state does pretty well when it comes to battling the bulge. It’s not hard to be outdoors in California, as its area is long from north to south and therefore covers a wide variety of weather possibilities. The state is renowned for the fact that in one day you can be in snow and go downhill skiing in moderate temperatures, and in the afternoon go swimming at the beach in warm temperatures. Sightseeing here is made easy outdoors, with vineyards and geysers, old-growth forests and mountains for hiking. Catch a wave? You can do that, too. No wonder Californians are generally so fit!
4 Connecticut: 22.7% obese
The CDC reported in 2012 that one area where Connecticut is doing things right is in schools, where almost 72% of schools prohibited the promotion and advertising of candy and fast-food, etc. anywhere on school grounds or related areas (buses, grounds outside building, playing fields, and newsletters). With a plethora of state parks, museums and heritage sites to visit, there are tons of outings involving walking in this state that borders its “thin” neighbors, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. New Jersey is also close by; perhaps there’s something in the drinking water in this region! Can we have some...?
3 Montana: 22.0% obese
Nestled next to Wyoming, one might think of roaming cowboys herding cattle in the mountains. This type of life would generally keep one trim. Montana, however, is actually on the continental divide, so the east and west topography is quite different, with lots of hiking opportunity in the Northern Rockies, and on the other side of the state there are plains as well. Nicknamed “Big Sky Country,” Montana had over 53% of the population completing at least 300 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week according to the latest CDC survey.
2 Massachusetts: 21.5% obese
This second-thinnest US state is well educated, hosting such respected institutions as Amherst, Brandeis, Boston University, Harvard, M.I.T and Tufts. Does the “degree-density” positively affect people’s weight? Are folks here so busy studying they don’t have time to eat, or are they always running from class to class? We don’t know exactly why the Bay State hosts less obese citizens than the majority of the country, but perhaps it has something to do with the fact that legislators here set laws like the 2009 regulation requiring major chain restaurants to display the calorie content of every item on the menu. That'd make one think twice before ordering!
1 Colorado: 18.7% obese
Colorado is reputed to be a state full of liberal-thinkers who also happen to be very active. With downhill skiing a given in this region comprised largely of the southern Rockies, folks here do all kinds of other outdoor activities: hiking, horseback riding, rock and ice climbing, cycling, snowboarding, rafting, ziplining and more. This is clearly a place where people focus on being healthy — they have the only obesity average below 20% in the entire nation.