Americans needs to slim down and take better care of themselves. It is a fact that is reported in the news on a yearly basis, and it is one that is based on multiple pieces of information. Back in September of 2015, The State of Obesity updated its list of adult obesity rates by states in the country. The data that is presented is alarming in many ways, and things may even actually be worse than what is offered by the website. The State of Obesity made sure to point out that the body mass index numbers may be inaccurate “because people tend to underreport their weight and exaggerate their height.”
In total, 20 of the 50 states and also the District of Columbia registered adult obesity rates of at least 30.2 percent. 17 different states managed to exceed that mark. Every state that is mentioned among the 10 supposed “fattest states in America” were responsible for adult obesity rates of over 32 percent, and the top three states checked in with obesity rates of over 35 percent. While hitting out at “body shamers” has become a common practice on the Internet, and for legitimate reasons, it is not offensive to suggest that people living in the United States as a whole need to make smarter choices about what we eat and also about how much we exercise on a weekly basis.
10 South Carolina: 32.1 Percent Adult Obesity Rate
This number comes with both good and bad news about residents living in the state of South Carolina. According to the South Carolina Institute of Medicine & Public Health, the state was seventh in the country for obesity back in 2013. The amount of obese individuals living in South Carolina at that time was 31.7 percent, though, and the data from the fall of 2015 suggests that number has again risen. To compare, North Carolina checked in with a 29.7 percent adult obesity rate. That put North Carolina at No. 24 on a list of the fattest states in America.
9 North Dakota: 32.2 Percent
2015 was apparently a rough year as it pertained to tracking obesity figures for those who lived in North Dakota. Every state that immediately neighbors North Dakota had an adult obesity rate between 25 and 29.9 percent. South Dakota was not all that far off from its neighbor to the north, checking in with an adult obesity rate of 29.8 percent. According to a story posted on ValleyNewsLive.com back in November of 2015, North Dakota ranked “number one” in childhood obesity. “Food choices” were cited as the biggest factor for the obesity rate among children living in North Dakota.
8 Ohio: 32.6 Percent
Misti Crane of The Columbus Dispatch provided further analysis on the information The State of Obesity offered about the state of Ohio. According to that story, Ohio was one of only five states that saw obesity rates for adults rise from the previous year. Crane also reported that Ohio “was also one of eight (states) with increasing rates of diabetes.” Ohio was not alone among its neighbors in the adult obesity rate category. Every one of Ohio's neighboring states registered adult obesity rates of at least 30 percent. One, in particular found its way in the top-two on the list of the fattest states in America.
7 Indiana: 32.7 Percent
The news that was offered by The State of Obesity in September 2015 was bad for Indiana in multiple ways. According to a piece written by J.C. Lee and posted to The Elkhart Truth in September 2014, Indiana had an adult obesity rate of 31.8 percent in 2013. Also according to Lee, Indiana had an adult obesity rate of only 20.5 percent all the way back in 2000. Per the information that was posted by Jill Sheridan of WBAA.org in March of 2016, the state “also had a greater average of sexually transmitted infections and violent crime than the national median.”
6 Oklahoma: 33 Percent
One could say that Oklahoma serves as the line that separates the fattest states in America from states that have lower adult obesity rates. While Oklahoma is technically the fattest state in the very middle of the United States, no state west of Oklahoma had an adult obesity rate of 30 percent or higher. In fact, neighboring Colorado had an adult obesity rate of just 21.4 percent, making it the least-fat state in all of the country. Whatever it is that those who live in Colorado are doing, the people of Oklahoma should take note and make some serious lifestyle changes.
5 Alabama: 33.5 Percent
Alabama is not alone in the state's fight against obesity. Every one of Alabama's neighboring states had an adult obesity rate of over 30 percent per the information presented by The State of Obesity. What is concerning is that things seem to be getting worse in Alabama. According to Allison Griffin of the Montgomery Advertiser, Alabama had an adult obesity rate of 32.4 percent for the previous year. For 2012, Alabama's obesity rate was 33 percent. Griffin also presented the following information: “Also of concern is the obesity rate by race. Blacks in Alabama have an adult obesity rate of 41.8 percent, compared to 29.8 percent for whites.”
4 Louisiana: 34.9 Percent
The news regarding obesity in Louisiana is worrisome for several reasons. First, it seems as if it is only a matter of time before Louisiana crossed the 35 percent threshold for adult obesity rate. Neighbors Mississippi and Arkansas are – spoiler alert – both over 35 percent per the data offered by The State of Obesity. Steve Sanoski of BusinessReport.com explained in May 2015 that Baton Rouge had been deemed to be the “fattest city in America.” According to that piece, Baton Rouge had an obesity rate of 35.9 percent, which is equal to the adult obesity rate for what can be called the fattest state in America.
3 Mississippi: 35.5 Percent
Routinely mentioned as one of the fattest states in America, Mississippi has been able to report some good news on the subject in the past few years. Sy Mukherjee of ThinkProgress.com offered the following information in July 2013: “Mississippi saw its childhood obesity rate reduced by more than 13 percent between 2006 and 2011, according to a new collaborative study by three Mississippi universities. Researchers attribute that decline to a recent overhaul of the state’s school nutrition and health education programs.” The hope is that these children will grow up to be healthier adults who will help lower the state's adult obesity rate, perhaps by the end of the decade.
2 West Virginia: 35.7 Percent
West Virginia is an anomaly for adult obesity rates when compared to its neighbors. Maryland, for example, had an adult obesity rate of 29.6 percent. Virginia was even lower and at 28.5 percent. Of West Virginia's neighbors, only Ohio checked in among the top ten fattest states in America. The Washington Times offered further information about obesity among residents living in West Virginia:
"Obesity was prevalent in about 40 percent of West Virginians ages 26 to 64, 31 percent of residents age 65 and older, and 21 percent of those ages 18 to 25. The report ranks West Virginia first in adult diabetes and high blood pressure."
1 Arkansas: 35.9 Percent
Arkansas nearly edged-out both West Virginia and Mississippi to “win” the right to be called the fattest state in America. According to KATV.com, Dr. Christopher Pittman blamed the food consumed by people in the state for Arkansas having such a high obesity rate.
"Food in the south, there's a feeling associated with it," said Dr. Pittman. "There's that family, the camaraderie - and a lot of our activities are centered around food."
Pittman said foods in the south tend to be fried, sugary and overall higher in fat. Some of the top grossing restaurants in the state tend to be fast food establishments and buffets.