There’s no escaping it: whether it’s in the way foreigners perceive them, or the dire statistics themselves, the United States of America has a weight problem. While the causes vary from dietary choices to economic disadvantages, the numbers are truly astounding. So which states are the fattest states by percentage? It’s time to take a cold hard look in the mirror and discover which state ranks as number one!
25. Pennsylvania – 31.6% Obesity Rate
Anyone who has gone to Philadelphia’s famed cheese steak shops throughout the city has surely seen the greasy sandwiches that are stacked high with a thick bun, meat dripping in oil, onions sautéed in butter, and the infamous cheese wiz that goes on top. With that as a staple meal, no one should be surprised that Pennsylvania finds itself on the list of fattest states.
While Pennsylvania has tied for 25th place when it comes to overall obesity across the state, the children of Pennsylvania face more upsetting circumstances. Across the entire U.S., the Keystone State’s childhood obesity rate is the 9th highest in the nation. So which state tied with Pennsylvania?
24. Georgia – 31.6% Obesity Rate
In 2012, the obesity rate in Georgia was not horrible, but it was far from being acceptable, coming in at 28 percent. But in just seven short years, Georgia’s obesity rate among adults shot up to 31.6 percent, earning this state a spot on this list.
While the state of Georgia is known for those famous Georgia peaches, it seems like those peaches are finding their ways into more pies and sweets than anything. And children are not exempt from this sudden spike: the state places 18th as far as the states with the highest levels of obesity among 10 to 17-year-olds.
23. Delaware – 31.8% Obesity Rate
In Delaware, the state’s health and human services division reports that only 39.7 percent of people have weights within the recommended range. But what about the rest of the state’s residents? Well, about a third of adults between ages 18 to 25 are overweight in Delaware. And the older people get, the more likely they are to suffer from obesity.
Within the 25 to 34-year-old age bracket, more than half — that’s about 56 percent — of people are considered to be overweight. Worse still, among adults that are between the ages of 45 and 64, a whopping 68 percent are considered to be overweight. All together, 58.6 percent of all adults living in Delaware are categorized as overweight or obese.
22. South Dakota – 31.9% Obesity Rate
In 2016, about 29.6 percent of people living in South Dakota were considered to be obese, a number that was once low enough to let the state avoid being on this not-so-savory list. But just three years later, that number jumped. Now, 31.9 percent of South Dakota residents are said to be obese.
The groups most likely to suffer from these high obesity rates include American Indians, those making between $25,000 to $34,999 a year, and those who have a high school diploma or GED. In fact, Native American reservations reportedly have the highest rates of obesity in the state, along with metropolitan areas like Sioux City.
21. Wisconsin – 32% Obesity Rate
It might come as no surprise that a state known for its love of cheese would land itself on this list. Let’s be real, even their football fans are called cheese heads! But how can one possibly resist the temptation to binge when the dairy products there are just so good?
Compared to other states on this list, Wisconsin actually has a relatively low obesity rate among the state’s children. To help combat obesity, the University of Wisconsin’s School of Public Health has started tracking rates by zip code. The study found that people living in certain zip codes are four times more likely to be obese than even their next-door neighbors.
20. North Carolina – 32.1% Obesity Rate
Oh, North Carolina. Just the name of the state alone is enough to conjure up a mouth-watering image of a fully-stocked dinner table, complete with Carolina-style barbecue, good old country shrimp and grits, and a heaping bowl of pimento cheese. This state is known for all of these insanely delicious foods, which also just so happen to be insanely high in calories.
Not to mention, North Carolina is also the birthplace of everyone’s famous heart-attack-in-a-bite, Krispy Kreme Donuts. So it is no wonder that with all of these unhealthy dining options North Carolina would find a place on this list. In fact, the state’s obesity rate has gone up more than 20 percent in the last 30 years. That’s a lot of barbecue.
19. Michigan – 32.3% Obesity Rate
It’s official: almost one-third of Michigan residents are considered obese. And if anyone can believe it, that number is actually down from a year before. Among only children, about 18.9 percent of kids between ages 10 to 17 also suffer from obesity. The numbers for obesity among both adults and children in Michigan have been on a steady rise for years.
These high rates in Michigan have been attributed to the state’s low percentage of high school graduates. On average, those across the country with a lower level of education are at a higher risk for being obese. This state known for its college activities seems to be no different.
18. Kansas – 32.4% Obesity Rate
When taking a glimpse at the state of Kansas and its all-time favorite foods, it almost feels like the state is a totally different country. Some of its highlights include “zwiebach,” “bierocks,” “lefse,” and something called a “loose meat sandwich.” Even if you’re not familiar with these foods, suffice it to say that none of these dishes look particularly healthy.
According to the Kansas Health Foundation, this state was one of the only states in the country to have a sharp increase in obesity rates between the years of 2014 and 2015, and not much has changed since. Since then, the state has pretty much leveled, while other states are expanding their waistlines and surpassing the Sunflower State.
17. Missouri – 32.5% Obesity Rate
If anyone needs proof that Missouri might have some of the most guilt-worthy food in the country, we have two words: toasted ravioli. This dish was first created and popularized in St. Louis, and involves taking the already famous cheese-filled pasta, smothering it in breadcrumbs, and dipping the whole thing into a deep fryer. The result? The most Americanized Italian food ever.
The land of fried ravioli is also one of the heaviest lands in the United States, and the Show-Me State has more than a few impressive mid-sections to show you. While 32.5 percent covers the state’s obesity rates, it turns out that nearly two out of three adults are either overweight or obese in Missouri.
16. Tennessee – 32.8% Obesity Rate
When taking a trip to Tennessee and visiting one of their classic restaurants, many might notice that menus basically include a long list of fried options. These include, but are not limited to: fried pickles, fried chicken, sweet potato fries, and fried catfish. Menus may also include things like biscuits and gravy, country ham, mac and cheese, corn bread, and of course, barbecue.
And while these foods might seem indulgent, that is, well, probably because they really are. And anyone who has gone to Tennessee knows that staying away from eating all of these foods in one sitting takes a whole lot of self-restraint.
15. Nebraska – 32.8% Obesity Rate
The state of Nebraska is not particularly known for its food. In fact, much to the chagrin of locals, it’s safe to say that many Americans don’t know much about Nebraska at all, other than its wide open, rolling farmlands, and the corn grown by the state’s farmers.
Nebraska apparently knows it has a weight problem, and has been trying for years to fix it, albeit unsuccessfully. There was once a bill that was debated by state government that concerned taxing soda beverages and candies, but it never passed. Instead, the government is hoping that healthier lunches in public schools might set children on the right path sooner, so that they do not face obesity down the road.
14. Texas – 33% Obesity Rate
Everyone knows the old saying that everything is bigger in Texas. And in this case, it seems like bigger waistlines and pant sizes are no exception. One in three adults are said to be obese in the Lone Star State. And when one includes people that the Center for Disease Control, or CDC, considers to be “overweight,” the number is even higher.
The CDC reports that in the state of Texas, 65.9 percent are overweight, with a Body Mass Index of 25 or greater. According to their data, 27.3 percent of Texans said that they did not participate in any physical activity whatsoever over the previous month.
13. North Dakota – 33.2% Obesity Rate
In 1985, no state in the entire United States of America had an obesity rate of anything over 15 percent. In 1991, no state had an obesity rate above 20 percent. Fast forward a few years, and places like North Dakota are experiencing obesity rates that engulf over one-third of the state population.
North Dakota residents are looking at some bad numbers in terms of weight. About 71 percent of people living in the state are overweight or obese. Of those residents, nearly 10 percent experience diabetes and 29.5 percent face high blood pressure, according to one local paper. It also seems that those living in rural communities are much more likely to be obese.
12. Indiana – 33.6% Obesity Rate
Indiana might find itself in the middle of this year’s list of the fattest states in the country, but its obesity rate has actually stayed pretty stable over the years. For example, in 2013 the obesity rate was 31 percent, compared to its 33.6 percent current statistic. So experts in the state say that in order to see some real change, something has to be done.
“The state really needs to step back and say ‘what can we do more of, what evidence-based programs do we need to put in place, and what is a more comprehensive approach to obesity prevention that we need to embrace?'” said the director of Trust for America’s Health. Hopefully Indiana will start adopting this attitude before its health crisis truly gets out of control.
11. Ohio – 33.8% Obesity Rate
What really makes Ohio tip the scales and land itself a place on this list is the state’s childhood obesity rates. For teenagers and pre-teens, the state has the tenth-highest obesity rate in the country. So what does that look like? It means that about one in every six children between 10 to 17 years of age are obese.
If that seems dark and depressing, consider that the national average is one in every seven children that experiences obesity. Still, Ohio is “optimistic” that they can “turn the tide around,” according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. In 2016, Ohio saw a slight dip in their obesity rates, but since then the number has unfortunately been on the rise.
10. South Carolina – 34.1% Obesity Rate
Anyone who has ever spent a vacation in balmy South Carolina knows that the state has some of the best food in the entire country. From the she-crab soup to the collard greens, the flaky and buttery biscuits, rich grits, fried okra, and decadent pecan pies, just one meal in Charleston will leave anyone having to go fetch a bigger pair of pants by the end of it.
It can all be hard to resist, and apparently many of the residents in South Carolina agree. This Southern state just inched its way into the top ten of this list of fattest states in the country, as more than a third of adults suffer from obesity.
9. Alaska – 34.2% Obesity Rate
Something massive is going on way up north in Alaska. Since 1991, the number of adults considered to be obese has more than doubled in size. Back in 1991, only 13 percent of Alaskans were categorized as being obese. This rise has come as a bit of a surprise, since Alaskan officials say that they put a heavy focus on early education about making healthy food choices.
One of the reasons that people think Alaska has found itself becoming so heavy is because food options are extremely expensive in the state, so purchasing foods that are healthy and nutritious is even more of a hardship than it would be in other states.
8. Kentucky – 34.3% Obesity Rate
Is anyone really all that surprised that a state whose name is literally synonymous with fried chicken has found itself to be one of the heaviest places in the United States? Yeah, we didn’t think so. Kentucky set its own unsavory record in 2018 when an estimated 37 percent of people living in the state were considered to be obese.
Between 2016 and 2017, Kentucky had the second-highest obesity rate among children and teenagers in the entire country. This might have a lot to do with the availability of healthy food. According to one study, Kentucky ranked 43rd when measuring healthy food availability across the state. That’s not a good look — and far from being “finger-lickin’ good.”
7. Arkansas – 35% Obesity Rate
Arkansas residents love their high-fat, high-protein foods. The state culture centers around communal eating experiences, most notably anything involving meat, fried fish, and fried chicken. So that should give anyone an idea of what they can expect from the self-pronounced Natural State.
The statistics of eating-related issues in Arkansas are so high that the state’s most preventable health problem is actually obesity. According to some experts, it is common for many of these Southern states to find themselves on this list due to the prevalence of fried foods as a staple of local everyday diets, along with the uneven distribution of wealth in some of the more rural areas.
6. Louisiana – 36.2% Obesity Rate
Louisiana is home to some of the most iconic foods in the entire country. People living in Louisiana can enjoy arguably the best spicy jambalaya, sugar-dusted beignets, fluffy po’ boy sandwiches, rich gumbo, sweet pralines, and fresh crawfish in the whole world. Even the thought of those foods is enough to make anyone’s mouth water.
The obesity issues in this state start startlingly young. Among children living in Louisiana between the ages of just 2 to 4 years old, 13.2 percent suffer from obesity. By high school, that number climbs up to 17 percent. Issues with weight are much more prevalent in this state among the African-American community, followed by the Latino community.
5. Alabama – 36.3% Obesity Rate
Did someone say chicken fried steak? Then it sounds like we have finally reached the top five on this list of the most overweight states in the entire country. Of all 50 states, Alabama is one of only six that has an obesity rate of 36 percent or higher.
When adding in the amount of adults who are considered overweight rather than obese, the number rises to 69 percent. According to a study by the CDC, 31 percent of adults in Alabama said that they had not engaged in any physical activities over the previous month. That’s just about as many people who are listed as being obese in the entire state.
4. Iowa – 36.4% Obesity Rate
Every four years, presidential candidates travel back and forth to the first-in-the-nation voting state to try to win over Iowans’ support. And for most of those candidates, those visits include at least one to the Iowa State Fair, an event known for its insane food combinations, most of which can be found on a stick.
And what do we mean by insane? Examples of snacks include bacon-wrapped chicken wings, bacon balls, a butter cake shake, caramel-dipped pecan pie on a stick, deep-fried deviled eggs, fried avocado, bacon ice cream, corn dogs, dill pickle popcorn, funnel cake fries, and chicken Parmesan on a stick. We’ve gained ten pounds just from thinking about it!
3. Oklahoma – 36.5% Obesity Rate
In the state of Oklahoma, 18 percent of all children between the ages of 10 to 17 are obese, earning Oklahoma the sixth-highest childhood obesity rate in the country. In high school alone, 17.3 percent of Oklahomans are considered to be obese.
In the last 30 years, childhood obesity rates have more than doubled among 6 to 11-year-olds and quadrupled among 12 to 19-year-olds, indicating that these numbers are not expected to go down as the next generation grows up. One factor that experts are associating with this high obesity rate comes from Oklahoma’s affinity for sugary drinks, including sodas, sports drinks, and energy drinks.
2. Mississippi – 37.3% Obesity Rate
Decadent dishes like blue crab, Mississippi mud pie, and plenty of fried options have put this state on the map when it comes to fattening foods. But as time has gone on, the state has also become known as having one of the highest obesity rates in the entire country, ranking this year in second place.
About 37.3 percent of adults in Mississippi are considered to be obese. And to put that number into perspective, that means that more than one and a half million people living in the state are overweight or obese. The crisis is so severe that it has become the biggest threat to the health of Mississippians.
1. West Virginia – 38.1% Obesity Rate
Topping off the list of the fattest states in the U.S. in first place is West Virginia. A staggering 38 percent of all the people in the Mountain State are considered to be obese. No wonder the state’s Health and Human Services division says that obesity is “one of the most serious public health concerns facing [the] state today.”
Government officials in West Virginia say that all of this unhealthy eating has resulted in $1.4 to $1.8 billion in preventable medical costs. The issue has also lowered productivity rates, costing employers about $506 per obese worker per year. Now that’s a lot of dollars, on top of a lot of extra pounds.
26. Honorable Mention: Maryland – 31.3% Obesity Rate
We guess that all of those “all you can eat” crab deals in Maryland have really started to seriously expand some waistlines. And we cannot blame anyone, those incredible crabs are hard to put down. But hands off, because this obesity problem has gotten out of hand in the state of Maryland.
The issue of obesity is creating a whole other set of issues for Marylanders. According to the state’s Department of Health, of the adults in Maryland who suffer from obesity or being overweight, 45 percent also experienced high blood pressure, 47 percent had high cholesterol, and 23 percent of obese adults had been diagnosed with diabetes.
27. Honorable Mention: Illinois – 31.1% Obesity Rate
Never heard of a horseshoe sandwich? Well, clearly that means someone has never paid a proper visit to Illinois. This open-faced sandwich is said (in jest) to be the official state meal. Originating in Springfield, Illinois, horseshoes are open-faced sandwiches set to overdrive.
All it takes is a thick piece of bread, a burger patty or roast beef slices, topped with a mountain of french fries or hash browns and a layer of sausage gravy. We think we consumed a few hundred calories by simply reading this description. There’s even a horseshoe sandwich competition each year at the Illinois State Fair.
28. Honorable Mention: Virginia – 30.1% Obesity Rate
Virginia has been facing an obesity problem for years, as more and more of its residents are tipping the scales and being declared officially overweight or obese. In 2015, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) funneled more than $375,000 to the state in hopes of improving access to healthy foods and encouraging physical activity.
Years later, it seems that the efforts made over the last few years have not made much of a dent in Virginia’s rankings. While the state has not made it into the ranking of top 25 largest states in the country, its consistency has still been cause for concern.
29. Honorable Mention: Rhode Island – 30% Obesity Rate
Rhode Island, despite the fact that it is not actually an island, still maintains a top spot as having some of the best seafood in the country. But in a place where so much seafood is available, there is an equal amount of choice to have all of those delicious seafoods come battered and fried.
From fried clam strips to fried oysters, fish, and calamari, what’s not to love? Well, apparently, the extra calories come with a bit of a downside. According to the World Population Review, 30 percent of adults in Rhode Island are considered obese, and other estimates say that 14 percent of children ages 10 to 17 also suffer from obesity as well.
30. Honorable Mention: Arizona – 29.5% Obesity Rate
Arizona is the sixth largest state in the United States, and it seems that they have the waistlines to match. About 29.5 percent of the residents living in Arizona suffer from obesity, and the number has seemed to plateau over the years, despite efforts from the state’s government to help Arizonans shed those unwanted pounds.
With Mexico right to the south, the food in Arizona is heavily influenced by its neighbors. Some of the best foods to try in Arizona include chimichangas, Sonoran hot dogs that come bacon-wrapped and cheese-filled, something known as a “cowboy steak,” and a cheese crisp, which is basically an open-faced quesadilla.
31. Honorable Mention: Oregon – 29.4% Obesity Rate
When people think of the state of Oregon, many automatically think about life in the outdoors with long hikes and nature. But the truth is that this state has one of the highest obesity rates west of the Rocky Mountains, and tip the scales compared to its neighbors.
For years, the state has been taking on these curves by trying to flatten the curve. While other states might see their obesity rates increasing, Oregon has seen the trend stay leveled. “We’ve been able to stay pretty flat which was our intention given the resources that we have to address obesity,” Oregon’s health promotion manager said to local newspapers.
32. Honorable Mention: Idaho – 29.3% Obesity Rate
Idaho is known for its state fruit: the huckleberry. And anyone visiting or living in Idaho can find these sweet purple berries in just about anything, from syrups to ice creams and cheesecakes. These fruits have become so highly sought after that there are even secret family-owned huckleberry farms hidden away.
But all that sugar might pack a punch and a few pounds. In the state, 29.3 percent of adults are suffering from obesity. And the news is not much better when it comes to the children of Idaho. One fourth of Idaho residents between the ages of 10 and 17 are either obese or overweight.
33. Honorable Mention: Maine – 29.1% Obesity Rate
Maine is the biggest state in New England, and now it can also be called one of the largest in terms of waistlines. According to the World Population Review, 29.1 percent of people living in Maine are considered to be obese, making it the second fattest state in New England, just behind Rhode Island.
So how did Maine end up with this widespread problem? According to one Maine-based medical expert who spoke to NBC News “fresh fruit and produce are not easy to find in Maine. We’re a rural state, parts of Maine have low income populations, so we know that in a rural state, many people don’t have access.”
34. Honorable Mention: Wyoming – 28.8% Obesity Rate
A list of Wyoming’s most iconic foods include chicken-fried steak, bison burgers, elk, lamb, and sausage gravy. And who could resist all of that? For meat lovers, the 11,500 farms and ranches within the state’s borders means that Wyoming is said to have some of the best cuisine in the entire country.
So it may not come as a surprise that 28.8 percent of people living in Wyoming are considered obese. But what may be surprising is that this means the state’s obesity rate falls slightly below the national average. Having over one-quarter of adults suffering from obesity is not a great place to be, but when compared to other states, the stats could be worse.
35. Honorable Mention: Florida – 28.4% Obesity Rate
Oh, Florida. Over the years, the Sunshine State taken the brunt of most state-related jokes. But when it comes to obesity rates, it seems like Florida may be the one laughing this time, as its ranked 35th out of 50 for the fattest states. With an obesity rate of 28.4 percent, Florida falls just below the national average.
The Florida Department of Health is trying to bring these numbers even further down through a series of programs that include efforts to promote physical activity, provide healthier options at more accessible prices, encourage health initiatives in workplaces, increasing public messaging, and working with schools to provide healthier lunches.
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