Gallup: Mississippi Most Obese State in US, Montana Least

Tuesday, 04 Mar 2014 06:35 PM

By Jason Devaney

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Mississippi is the most obese state in the nation, a Gallup report says.

The Southern state tops the Gallup list, with 35.4 percent of its residents obese in 2013. That’s a full percentage point ahead of West Virginia. Delaware is third with 34.3 percent.

West Virginia held the highest rate from 2010 through 2012.

Gallup and Healthways have collected obesity data every year since 2008, and the national rate of obesity has increased from 25.5 percent to 27.1 percent during that stretch.

With the exception of Montana, more than two in 10 adults in every state were obese last year. In 11 states, the figure was three of every 10 adults.

The other states in the top 10 for obesity in 2013 were Louisiana, 32.7 percent; Arkansas, 32.3 percent; South Carolina, 31.4 percent; Tennessee, 31.3 percent;  Ohio, 30.9 percent; Kentucky, 30.6 percent; and Oklahoma, 30.5 percent.

Mississippi, West Virginia, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Kentucky have been among the 10 most obese states since 2008.

Montana sports the lowest obesity rate with 19.6 percent of its residents, followed by Colorado, 20.4 percent, and Nevada, 21.1 percent. Minnesota, 22 percent; Massachusetts, 22.2 percent; Connecticut, 23.2 percent; New Mexico, 23.5 percent; California, 23.6 percent; Hawaii, 23.7 percent; and New York, 24 percent, follow.

Anyone with a body mass index of at least 30 is considered obese. BMI is calculated using a person’s height and weight.

The data shows that residents of the 10 states with the highest percentages of obesity are more likely to develop chronic diseases during their lifetimes. Those include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, depression, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

More specifically, 35.8 percent of residents in those 10 states have high blood pressure. In the 10 least obese states, that figure drops to 26.4 percent.

Residents in the 10 least obese states eat healthier and exercise more.

“As the rate of obesity among U.S. adults continues to increase across all 50 states, health issues and costs associated with the chronic diseases that can accompany obesity will continue to rise,” the report says.

“Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index data show Americans are not eating as healthily or exercising as often as in past years, which might play a role in the increase of national and state obesity rates.”

Dr. James E. Pope, senior vice president and chief science officer at Healthways said :

“While there are a variety of factors that are often correlated with rising obesity rates, such as an unhealthy food environment, poor eating habits, increasing portion sizes, and inactivity, experts agree that the health consequences of obesity are real. Research has shown that the average healthcare costs for an obese individual are over $1,300 more annually than someone who is not obese.”

The report concludes by saying that obesity rates in children between 2 and 5 years old have fallen 43 percent in the last 10 years. That, coupled with the fact that the American Medical Association officially classified obesity as a disease last year, could eventually lead to a healthier nation.

“Efforts to curb childhood obesity in America may positively affect adult obesity rates across all states in the years ahead,” the report says. “Specifically, these efforts may lead to fewer Americans entering adulthood overweight, while also encouraging overweight adults to make healthier lifestyle choices.”

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