Only 2 States Have Obesity Rates Below 20%, Gallup Finds

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Five states report that 1 in 3 adults meet the CDC definition of obesity, which is having a body mass index of 30 or more.

The latest lifestyle data from a leading survey and research group finds that more states than not have large shares overweight and obese Americans, and just 2 have obesity rates below 20%.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index reports today that only Colorado (19.8%) and Hawaii (18.5%) have less than a fifth of the population in ranges below obese, which is defined by CDC as having a body mass index of 30.

Meanwhile, at least 1 in 3 adults are obese in 5 states, led by West Virginia with an obesity rate of 37%. The other states are Mississippi (35.5%), Delaware (33.8%), Arkansas (33.5%), and Oklahoma (33.5%). And the national obesity rate reached a new high of 28% in 2015, way up from the rate of 25.5% in 2008, the year Gallup began tracking obesity.


The report also highlighted states with rapidly rising obesity rates. Four states have seen their rates rise at least 5 percentage points since the surveys began, led by Maine, up 6.6 points to 31.5%. Other rapid risers are West Virginia, Idaho, and Oklahoma. Apparently no state has seen its obesity rate decline over the years.

By region, the Midwest edges out the South for obesity, with the region recording an overall rate of 30% compared with the South’s 29.9%. The South has some outlier states, however; besides Mississippi and Arkansas, there is Alabama at 31.3% and Louisiana at 30.9%.

No state in the entire Midwest or South had an obesity rate below 25%.

Data released alongside the state-level obesity rates examined eating and drinking patterns by age group and found some equally disturbing news: millennials are eating and drinking much worse than their parents, and while some are staying slim now, overall they are having a harder time losing weight than comparable groups in generations past.

The data grouped respondents into 4 sets: traditionalists (above age 70) baby boomers (age 52 to 70) Generation X (age 37 to 51) and millennials (age 20 to 36). Each group has seen an increase in obesity levels since 2008 except millennials, even though 23% said they smoked, compared with lower rates among the older groups, and 13% said they had 7 or more alcoholic drinks a week. Generation X and boomers reported this rate at 12%.

Millennials also eat far fewer servings of fruit and vegetables and were less likely to answer “yes,” if asked whether they ate healthy yesterday.