As a whole, the United States is getting larger. And we seem to be doing it according to some pretty predictable measures, according to the latest Gallup poll that determined the fattest states in the country.
The new poll shows both the 10 most obese states and the 10 least obese states, and despite the general reordering in each category, the lists have stayed mostly the same since Gallup gathered the data in 2008. The problem is, both groups have gotten more obese. On the heels of a separate poll released last week that showed America’s obesity problem has crept to a nationwide prevalence of 27.1 percent, the data emphasizes how a lack of exercise and healthy diet continues to cripple the U.S. with related diseases and burdening hospital bills.
The 10 Most Obese States The 10 Least Obese States
Mississippi - 35.4% Montana - 19.6%
West Virginia - 34.4% Colorado - 20.4%
Delaware - 34.3% Nevada - 21.1%
Louisiana - 32.7% Minnesota - 22.0%
Arkansas - 32.3% Massachusetts - 22.2%
South Carolina - 31.4% Connecticut - 23.2%
Tennessee - 31.3% New Mexico - 23.5%
Ohio - 30.9% California - 23.6%
Kentucky - 30.6% Hawaii - 23.7%
Oklahoma - 30.5% New York - 24.0%
A Year of Firsts
Data analyzed between Jan-Dec. of 2013 showed a number of unique statistics. Namely, 2013 was the first year in which all 10 states had an obesity rate at or above 30 percent. In total, three in 10 adults were obese in 11 states, compared to only five states in 2012.
Last June, the American Medical Association formally classified obesity as a disease in itself, rather than a risk factor for other diseases. The switch was heralded as both a success and a failure, as critics and proponents debated whether the obese would feel more or less compelled to lose weight if they suffered from a condition or a disease. Critically, the risks stay the same. The obese face a higher risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular problems.
The Gallup data upheld these risks, with the 10 most obese states suffering from high blood pressure at a rate of 35.8 percent while the bottom 10 suffered at a rate of 26.4 percent. What’s more, the financial burden of being obese significantly outweighs that of a healthy weight.
"Research has shown that the average healthcare costs for an obese individual are over $1,300 more annually than someone who is not obese,” explained Dr. James Pope, senior vice president and chief science officer at Gallup-Healthways, in a news release. “Although slowing and even reversing this trend may seem daunting, even modest weight loss of 5 percent to 10 percent of initial body weight can lower the health risks associated with obesity.”
Pope also speculated that with the separate challenge of childhood obesity, which is spurred by a youth culture that’s declining in terms of unstructured, active play (both at home and at school), ensuring future generations don’t show higher rates becomes a priority. But if the past is anything to go by, it’ll take more than mandatory vegetables and a presidential campaign to get kids moving more than their thumbs. Newton’s first law of motion, anyone?