WalletHub Lists "Fattest States." Where Does Your State Rank?

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A list that seeks both the causes and effects of obesity.

America is getting fat—that’s not a new idea. But there seem to be endless ways to look at this problem, and another comes this week from WalletHub, which has released a combination of 12 metrics called “2015 Fattest States in America.”

What’s different about this set of measures? It seeks to look not only at stats about whether people are overweight or obese, but how it’s happening. Are children overweight? Are people physically active? Do people drink a lot of soda? How about a daily dose of vegetables?

The survey takes into account health statistics like diabetes and death rates from obesity, but also potential causes like the number of adults who may lack access to a supermarket.

Besides the lists themselves, there’s a full explanation for how the lists were calculated. Data sources include CDC, the Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative, Trust for America's Health and the US Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service.

Looking at both the cause and the effect of the equation offers an interesting snapshot—even if the results produce some familiar names at the top of the list. While the 5 states with the least weight issues states are spread across the country, the 5 with the biggest weight issues are clustered in the South.

The 12 metrics were given a score between 0 and 100, with a higher score representing a worse performance. So states with more points had bigger weight problems.

Worst

5. South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina. Photo by Khanrak and published on Wikimedia Commons.

Points: 48.46

There were 2 parts to the points ranking: obesity and overweight prevalence; and unhealthy habits and consequences. South Carolina performed significantly worse on the obesity and overweight measure, ranking 3, and did a little better in unhealthy habits to rank 15.

Looking a little more in depth, WalletHub found that South Carolina had the fourth highest percentage of residents with high cholesterol, and the third highest percentage of residents with hypertension. Perhaps those unhealthy stats are a result of the state having the fifth highest percentage of adults eating less than 1 serving of fruits/vegetables per day.

Things aren’t looking much better for children in the state of South Carolina: they rank second for highest percentage of children who are obese.

4. Tennessee

Downtown Nashville, Tennessee. Photo by Tabitha Kaylee Hawk and published on Wikimedia Commons.

Points: 48.93

Tennessee performed nearly equally poorly in both measures, ranking 5 for obesity and overweight prevalence and 6 for unhealthy habits and consequences.

The state has the fourth highest percentage of adults who are obese and the fifth highest percentage of children who are obese. Perhaps this is a result of how inactive Tennessee’s resident are: the state ranked second for highest percentage of residents who are physically inactive.

During November, which is Diabetes Awareness Month, Tennesseans should take note: the state is tied for second for the highest percentage of residents with diabetes.

3. West Virginia

Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area in West Virginia. Photo posted to Wild, Wonderful West Virginia Instagram.

Points: 50.11

West Virginia may be third overall, but it ranked first for unhealthy habits and consequences and didn’t do much better in the obesity and overweight rank (6).

The state has some unusually stats. For instance, while it tied first for the highest percentage of adults who are obese, it actually has one of the lowest percentages of adults who are overweight (ranked 47).

Still, West Virginia is looking at some pretty bad health outcomes: it has the highest percentage of residents with diabetes and has the fourth highest percentage of residents with hypertension.

2. Louisiana

Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo by Laura Joszt.

Points: 51.33

Louisiana received the same low rank for both the obese and overweight measure and the unhealthy habits and consequences: 2.

Despite that, Louisiana did not rank in the top 5 for the highest percentage of either adults who are overweight or adults who are obese. However, that may change in the future as the state had the fourth highest percentage of children who are obese and the second highest percentage of children who are overweight.

Only making matters worse is the fact that Louisiana ranked fifth for the highest percentage of residents who are physically inactive and second for the highest percentage of adults eating less than 1 serving of fruits/vegetables per day.

WalletHub found that the state has the highest percentage of residents with hypertension in the entire country.

1. Mississippi

Jackson, Mississippi. Photo posted on Flickr by Visit Mississippi.

Points: 51.73

The Magnolia State ranked first for obesity and overweight prevalence and third for unhealthy habits and consequences and took the top spot as the state with the biggest weight problems.

Mississippi tied with West Virginia for the highest percentage of adults who are obese, which is twice the rate of the state with the lowest percentage. Mississippi also took the top spot for having the highest percentage of children who are obese and ranked fifth for the percentage of children who are overweight.

The state also has the highest percentage of physically inactive residents and the highest percentage of adults who eat less than 1 serving of fruits/vegetables per day. This has resulted in some pretty unhealthy residents. Mississippi tied for second for the highest percent of residents with diabetes and ranked second for the percent of residents with hypertension.

Go to the next page to see which states have the least weight issues.

Note, because the list includes the District of Columbia, there are 51 overall entries.

47. Utah

Delicate Arch in Arches National Park.

Points: 38.72

For a state that ranked so low overall, Utah had a surprisingly high rank for unhealthy habits and consequences (12), but performed much better on the obesity and overweight prevalence (40).

Utah tied for 46 (with California) for lowest percent of adults who are obese and tied for last with New Hampshire for the percent of children who are overweight. The state has the lowest percent of residents with diabetes, and tied for 48 for the lowest percent of residents with hypertension.

48. Massachusetts

Boston

Points: 38.30

Clearly, RomneyCare has been good for the state of Massachusetts, which ranked 44 of obesity and overweight prevalence and 48 for unhealthy habits and consequences.

The Bay State ranked 48 for its low percent of adults who are obese and other than that Massachusetts did not land in the bottom or top 5 for any of the other categories highlighted.

49. New Jersey

Long Branch beach. Photo by David Shankbone.

Points: 38.15

New Jersey landed 49, the third best in the country, thanks to ranking 46 for obesity and overweight prevalence and 44 for unhealthy habits and consequences.

The only highlighted category that New Jersey ranked in the top or bottom 5 for was childhood obesity: the state has the second lowest percent of children who are obese. Although it would have been fitting, the Garden State did not make the top 5 for lowest percent of adults eating less than 1 serving of fruits/vegetables per day.

50. Colorado

Bridal Veil Falls, Telluride, Colorado. Photo by Terry Foote.

Points: 35.93

Despite a moderate ranking for unhealthy habits and consequences (36), Colorado topped the list for the best rank (51) for obesity and overweight prevalence.

Colorado has the lowest percent of adults who are obese, the third lowest (49) percent of children who are overweight, and the fifth lowest (47) percent of children who are obese. This slim waistlines could be a result of the state having the least inactive residents. Plus, it ranked second for the lowest percent of residents with diabetes.

51. Hawaii

Maui, Hawaii. Photo by Ryan Oelke.

Points: 35.80

Island living must agree with the residents of the Aloha State, which ranked 50 for both obesity and overweight prevalence and for unhealthy habits and consequences.

The state had the fourth lowest percent of adults who are overweight and the second lowest percent who are obese. However, it did not land in the bottom 5 for children. Hawaii did rank 50 for its low percent of residents with high cholesterol and it tied for 48 with Utah for the lowest percent of residents with hypertension.