Are You Living in One of the Fattest States?

More Americans are overweight than ever before, but Mississippi and West Virginia hold the dubious distinction of having the highest obesity rates in the country, with both weighing in at more than 35%. This according to a new report from the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which also brings the distressing news that 18 states—including the entire South—have obsiety rates of at least 30%. On the other end of the scale, Colorado and Hawaii are the relative slimmest, with only 22% of their residents considered obese.

Seven U.S. states and the District of Columbia came in with rates just below one quarter of the population. New York was just slightly higher at 25.4%. 

One of the more alarming revelations of the study is how quickly high obesity rates have overtaken the nation. According to the Washington Post's writeup of the study, in 1990, no U.S. state had an obesity rate higher than 15%. A mere 10 years later, there were just two that had one lower: Arizona and Colorado. By 2010, no state had a lower rate than 20%. The numbers have been rising every year; in last year alone, Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, New Jersey, Tennessee and Wyoming all saw significant increases.

With obesity rates throughout the country averaging 35%, the U.S. is by far the fattest country—probably not the way Americans aspire to be number 1.

The cause of skyrocketing obesity rates may not be known, but certain correlations between demographics are undeniable and disturbing.

  • Blacks have obseity rates higher than 40% in 11 states and 30% in 41 states.
  • Latinos have rates higher than 30% in 23 states.
  • Whites are higher than 30% in only 10 states.
  • More than a third of those earning less than $15,000 a year are obese.
  • A quarter of those earning $50,000 are overweight.
  • Baby boomers are more likely to be obese than any other age group.

Check out the Post's interactive map for obesity rates by state.  

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card


Thanks for your support!

Did you enjoy AlterNet this year? Join us! We're offering AlterNet ad-free for 15% off - just $2 per week. From now until March 15th.