Twenty States Now Have Obesity Rates of 30 Percent or Higher, Study Shows

This is the third year in a row that all 50 states have an obesity rate of at least 20 percent Photo by Thinkstock
<p>This is the third year in a row that all 50 states have an obesity rate of at least 20 percent. <em>Photo by Thinkstock.</em></p>

Although it is no longer titled "F as in Fat," a recent report says Americans are indeed getting fatter.

The Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released their annual report Thursday on obesity rates in the United States. In the report, titled "The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America," 20 states have an adult obesity rate of at least 30 percent, based on 2013 data. In last year's report, there were 13 states with an obesity rate of at least 30 percent.

Mississippi and West Virginia are tied for the highest obesity rate at 35.1 percent, followed by Arkansas (34.6 percent), Tennessee (33.7 percent), Kentucky (33.2 percent) and Louisiana (33.1 percent), which had the highest obesity rate last year. All 10 states with the highest rates of obesity are in the South or Midwest, according to the study.

This is the third year in a row that all 50 states plus the District of Columbia have an obesity rate of at least 20 percent. Northeastern and Western states comprise most of the states with the lowest rates of obesity, according to the study. Colorado has the lowest adult obesity rate at 21.3 percent.

According to the report, between 2012 and 2013, Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, New Jersey, Tennessee and Wyoming showed significant increases in adult obesity.

In their letter, Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Jeffrey Levi, executive director of the Trust for America's Health, said they changed the name of the report because they believe "'F' no longer stands for failure." Despite the growing adult obesity rate, Lavizzo-Mourey and Levi write they are beginning to see signs of progress.

"After decades of alarming increases, this year's report shows us that childhood obesity rates have stabilized in the past decade," they write. "We also know that rates have declined in a number of places around the country—from Anchorage, AK, to Philadelphia, PA. For the first time in a decade, data also show a downward trend in obesity rates among young children from low-income families in many states.

"This is success worth heralding, brought about in part through committed action by policy makers across the nation. But this progress is still early and fragile."

The states with the highest adult obesity rates based on 2013 data:

  • 1. (tie) Mississippi (35.1 percent)
  • 1. (tie) West Virginia (35.1 percent)
  • 3. Arkansas (34.6 percent)
  • 4. Tennessee (33.7 percent)
  • 5. Kentucky (33.2 percent)
  • 6. Louisiana (33.1 percent)
  • 7. Oklahoma (32.5 percent)
  • 8. Alabama (32.4 percent)
  • 9. Indiana (31.8 percent)
  • 10. South Carolina (31.7 percent)
  • 11. Michigan (31.5 percent)
  • 12. Iowa (31.3 percent)
  • 13. Delaware (31.1 percent)
  • 14. North Dakota (31 percent)
  • 15. Texas (30.9 percent)
  • 16. (tie) Missouri (30.4 percent)
  • 16. (tie) Ohio (30.4 percent)
  • 18. Georgia (30.3 percent)
  • 19. (tie) Kansas (30 percent)
  • 19. (tie) Pennsylvania (30 percent)

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