Obesity in the US: State by State

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Obesity in the US: State by State


By Chris Jarratt of Bariquins (November 2016)

With the US presidential election in the news so much at the moment due to all the negative publicity around Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton, I thought that for this month’s blog, I’d look at the state of each of the States in regards to obesity. Do all the states have the same rate of obesity or does it vary from one to another? If so, is it random or in clusters? So, let’s look at this in a bit more detail.

It is well known that there is a serious obesity problem in America. The US constantly comes near the top of many leagues for its high rate of obesity. Although many believe it to be the most obese country in the world, it actually comes in 13th place according to figures from the World Health Authority.

I don’t intend to go through every one of the 50 states of America but we’ll start with the least obese state, pick those at the 40th, 30th, 20th and 10th spots, then finish with the top three.

So, let’s start with the least obese, which is Colorado whose capital city is Denver. This rectangular-shaped state sits to the West of the centre of America and around half way up. Sandwiched between the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains. The adult obesity rate there is a smidgeon over 20% which, if it was included in the rates of obesity for countries, would put it 0.1% lower than the Russian Federation. In terms of area, Colorado is the 8th largest state but population-wise it’s only the 22nd.

Up at the 40th place is the smallest of the American states, Rhode Island on the North-East coast. In terms of population, it’s ranked 8th and its adult obesity rate measures in at 26%. The capital is Providence.

Moving back across the country again to immediately North of Colorado is the state with the capital Cheyenne -that’s Wyoming by the way. Our 30th placed state. Ranked the 10th largest in area but the lowest in population of all 50 of the states, it has an adult obesity rate recorded at 29%.

Climbing another ten places up our league, we should have come to the 20th position. However, there’s a tie for the number 19 spot. Battling it out for the placing are Georgia and Wisconsin. Separated by nothing in their obesity rates, each having 30.7% of their adult population obese; their respective capitals, Atlanta and Madison, are 700 miles apart. Wisconsin being on the border with Canada and Georgia just North of Florida. They’re even next to each other when it comes to their area sizes, Wisconsin just shading it as the largest of the two and 23rd largest overall.

Yet again, at number 10 we have two states vying for the position. This time it’s between Texas (capital Austin) and Missouri (capital Jefferson City), measuring in with an adult obesity rate of 32.4% each. Second only to Alaska, Texas is the next biggest state in the whole of the USA, whereas Missouri comes in at 21st in terms of size.

Before we list the top three, here’s a map of the States and their relative obesity levels -the darker the colour, the higher ratio of obese adults. By and large, obesity is worst from a line of states, top to bottom, from central America to the East Coast.




            It’s easy to see from the above map those states that are competing to be in the top 3 for highest percentages of obese adults. So, out of the 4 states shaded purple, who is going to make it into the top 3?

            And actually, it’s all 4 of them!

With a three-way tie for 2nd place, we have Alabama, Mississippi and West Virginia all with 35.6% of their adult populations obese. Meaning that the overall ‘winner’, (which is surely not the correct term) being Louisiana. That state recorded a whopping 36.2% of their adult inhabitants to gain the 1st place.

            For those that want to know which state is where in the league table, here’s the State of Obesity.org list. There’s also an interactive version of the above map on their webpage. As you hover over each state, it will show you its ranking in the US obesity league, the percentage of obese adults in that state and the frightening increase in that state’s obesity in the last 25 years.

            The general facts about each state have been taken from Wikipedia.

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