7 States Now Have an Obesity Rate of More than 35% — Do You Live in One?

Obesity rates in the United States are at an all-time high. But now, seven states throughout the country have an obesity rate of at least 35%. It’s the first time this many states have had such a serious obesity problem (it’s up from five states in 2016), and the issue doesn’t seem to be getting better any time soon. The following seven states have the highest obesity rates in the country* — do you live in one?

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The obesity rates in the U.S. are at an all-time high. | Mukhina1/Getty Images

7. Arkansas

Obesity rate: 35.0%

Arkansas is the seventh most obese state, just cracking the 35% mark. Although the overall population averages a rate of about 35%, the numbers vary by age. Shockingly, 41.4% of Arkansas residents between the ages of 45 and 64 are obese. On average, men are more obese than women, and black people are more obese than white or Latino people.

Believe it or not, Arkansas actually saw an overall drop in obesity between 2016 and 2017. The state went from 35.7% down to a solid 35%. It’s a good start, but they have a long way to go to fully gain control of their obesity problem.

6. Louisiana

Obesity rate: 36.2%

Louisiana’s obesity rate saw a 0.7% increase over the past year. Overall, the 45 to 64 age range is the fattest, with a whopping 42.9% of these adults falling in the obese category. In Louisiana, men and women are almost even, with 36% of men being obese and 35.5% of women.

Louisiana also ranks fourth in the nation for the highest diabetes rate, with 13.6% of the population having diabetes. (For perspective, Colorado, the least obese state, has a diabetes rate of 7.6%.)

5. Alabama

Obesity rate: 36.3%

Alabama is one of the few states that has more obese women than men. 37.4% of females are obese compared to 35.1% of males. Alabama has an even higher diabetes rate than Louisiana with 14.1%. A staggering 45% of the black population is overweight, followed by 33.1% of the white population and 31.9% of the Latino population. Once again, the 45 to 64 age group is the most obese, with 44.1% of those adults having a body mass index of 30 or more. (Obesity is noted as having a body mass index, or BMI, of 30 or more.)

4. Iowa

Obesity rate: 36.4%

Iowa just edges out Alabama for the fourth spot. No single race dominates Iowa’s obesity rates, as black, white, and Latino people fall within less than 3% of each other. Men and women are perfectly tied with an obesity rate of 36.4%, but the 45 to 64 age group is once again the most obese. Iowa actually has a fairly low diabetes rate of 9.6%, ranking them 35th in the country for diabetes.

3. Oklahoma

Obesity rate: 36.5%

Oklahoma’s obesity rate skyrocketed over the past year. Most states increase by less than one percentage point, but Oklahoma saw a 3.7% increase in obesity over just one year. Men are almost 4% more obese than women, but there was no single race that was much more obese than another. Oklahoma is also one of the few states that do not require physical education classes in middle school or high school.

2. Mississippi

Obesity rate: 37.3%

Mississippi’s obesity rate neither increased nor decreased over the last year; they were at 37.3% last year, too. The black population sees a significantly greater amount of obesity compared to the white or Latino populations (45.4%, 32.1%, and 29.2%, respectively). More women are obese than men, and Mississippi also has the second-highest diabetes rate in the country. Mississippi does not require physical education at the high school level.

1. West Virginia

Obesity rate: 38.1%

For the second year, West Virginia is the most obese state in the nation. It saw a 0.4% increase from last year and has been steadily climbing since 2015. West Virginia has the highest diabetes rate in the country at 15.2%; it also has the highest hypertension rate in the country. There is no physical education requirement for middle school and high school, but all of its schools are meeting the required nutrition standards. Unfortunately, West Virginia has a long way to go to curb its obesity problem.

*All information courtesy of stateofobesity.org.

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