Childhood Obesity is a Serious Problem in These States

Obesity in the United States has been a problem for decades. But children are feeling the brunt, too, with childhood obesity rates sky high. And some states are worse than others. Governments have taken initiatives to try and reduce childhood obesity, but with fast food restaurants around every corner, it hasn’t been easy. These are the 10 U.S. states with the highest rates of childhood obesity in children ages 10-17.

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Childhoos obesity rates are sky high in several states. | Mukhina1/Getty Images

10. Iowa

Childhood obesity rate: 17.7%

Iowa stands at No. 10 on the list with an obesity rate just under 18%. The childhood obesity rate grew by 0.2% between 2016 and 2017. The state is currently the fourth highest in the nation with adult obesity. It does require all children in public schools to participate in physical education classes.

9. Alabama

Childhood obesity rate: 18.2%

Alabama cracks the 18% mark for childhood obesity. The rates stayed exactly the same between 2016 and 2017. Alabama does require all public school students to participate in physical education classes. The state is currently third and second in the country for diabetes and hypertension rates among adults, respectively.

8. Georgia

Childhood obesity rate: 18.4%

Georgia doesn’t rank in the top 10 for adult obesity, adult hypertension, or adult diabetes, but it has a major childhood obesity problem. The state does not require middle school children to participate in physical education classes. It also doesn’t require a physical education time requirement for most grades.

7. Texas

Childhood obesity rate: 18.5%

Texas is another state that has a greater childhood obesity ranking than adult obesity ranking (it’s No. 14 in the nation for adult obesity). It does require physical education classes for all students. Plus, the state’s childhood obesity rate dropped by 3% between 2016 and 2017, so it at least it’s doing something right.

6. Ohio

Childhood obesity rate: 18.6%

Ohio didn’t used to be a state with a high obesity rate; it’s adult obesity rate was only 11.3% in 1990. But through the years, child and adult rates have both skyrocketed. (Adult obesity is up to 33.8%.) The state only requires physical education for high school students — not elementary or middle school. It saw no change in childhood obesity rates between 2016 and 2017.

5. Oklahoma

Childhood obesity rate: 18.7%

Oklahoma’s childhood obesity rate increased from 18.1% to 18.7% between 2016 and 2017. The state only requires physical education for its elementary school students. It ranks third in the nation for adult obesity, so it is evident some change needs to be made to get residents to live healthier lifestyles.

4. Louisiana

Childhood obesity rate: 19.1%

Louisiana’s childhood obesity rate dropped by 0.1% between 2016 and 2017, so that’s a decent start. While the state does require physical education classes for all public school students, a 0.1% drop won’t solve the obesity problem. Plus, nearly a quarter of Louisiana’s child population is food insecure.

3. Kentucky

Childhood obesity rate: 19.3%

Kentucky saw a slight drop in its childhood obesity rate, which was at 19.6% in 2016. It ranks in the top 10 for both adult diabetes and hypertension, so changes should be made to keep kids healthy into adulthood. It does not require physical education for students of any age.

2. West Virginia

Childhood obesity rate: 20.3%

West Virginia has one of the highest numbers of fast food restaurants per capita in the nation, which makes it less surprising they have a childhood obesity rate of more than 20%. It also has the highest adult obesity rate in the country. It does require physical education classes for all public school students, but its childhood obesity rate increased by 0.4% between 2016 and 2017.

1. Mississippi

Childhood obesity rate: 26.1%

Mississippi’s childhood obesity rate far exceeds any other state on this list. It also ranks in the top five in the nation for adult obesity, hypertension, and diabetes. The childhood obesity rate did drop by 0.1% between 2016 and 2017, but the state has a long way to go. However, it does require that all public school students participate in physical education classes.

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