The United States is well known for its obesity problem. Obesity can lead to health complications like heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes. As of 2015, about 9.4% of the population had type 2 diabetes according to Diabetes.org. However, the disease is far more prevalent in certain states.
We’ve ranked the top 10 states with the highest type 2 diabetes rates and followed it with the top 10 states with the lowest type 2 diabetes rates. The rates are according to stateofobesity.org.
Oklahoma is the first state to make the list with about 12% of its adult population living with diabetes. 32.8% of Oklahoma’s adult population is obese. Oklahoma requires its elementary school students to participate in physical education classes but not its middle school or high school students. PE classes can be a driving force in helping children prevent obesity and diabetes in later years.
Next: This next state tied for eighth.
Louisiana ties for the eighth position with 12.1% of its population suffering from diabetes. It is also the fifth most obese state in the nation, with 35.5% of its population falling into the obese category. 34% of Louisiana youth are either overweight or obese, but the state does require physical education classes for students of all ages.
Next: Which state tied with Louisiana?
Georgia ties with Louisiana with 12.1% of its population dealing with diabetes. However, when it comes to obesity, Georgia is much better off than Louisiana — Georgia ranks 20th in obesity in the U.S. Georgia requires physical education classes in its elementary schools and high schools, but 32.2% of children are still either obese or overweight.
Next: The country music capital has a diabetes problem.
In Tennessee, 12.7% of the adult population has been diagnosed with diabetes. Tennessee ranks sixth in adult obesity, but 37.7% of its youth are either obese or overweight, which ranks it first in the nation by that standard. Tennessee does require physical education for all of its students.
Next: This southern state has a large diabetes population.
6. South Carolina
South Carolina just cracks the 13% mark when it comes to diabetes. Interestingly, South Carolina is the 12th most obese state in the nation, yet it ranks sixth for type 2 diabetes. The state requires that all children in every grade participate in physical fitness classes, which might help combat some obesity later in life.
Next: This state is home to an unhealthy fast food chain.
13.1% of Kentucky’s adult population is living with diabetes. Kentucky has the seventh highest obesity rate in the nation at 34.2%. A staggering 33.5% of the youth population is either overweight or obese. Kentucky does not require physical education or recess in any of its schools, which could be leading children to develop diabetes later in life.
Next: Another state that doesn’t require gym classes.
Arkansas takes the fourth highest spot on the list with 13.5% of adults suffering from diabetes. The state does not require physical fitness classes for its high school students, nor does it require recess in its elementary schools. However, 98% of school districts do meet school nutrition standards in an effort to lower a child’s likelihood of getting diabetes at an older age.
Next: This state has the third highest diabetes rate and the second highest obesity rate in the country.
Mississippi sneaks just past Arkansas with about 13.6% of adults dealing with the disease. Mississippi’s obesity rate is a staggering 37.3%, giving it the second highest obesity rate in the country. As of 2016, the state had about 284,000 cases of type 2 diabetes, but it is on pace for more than 400,000 cases by 2030.
Next: More than 14% of this state’s adult population has diabetes.
Alabama’s obesity rate has been climbing significantly in recent years, and so has its diabetes rate. As of 2016, 14.6% of Alabama’s adult population was suffering from diabetes, and the state had a 35.7% obesity rate. The state does require physical fitness classes for its students but does not require recess in elementary schools.
Next: This state takes the No. 1 spot.
1. West Virginia
With 15% of its adult population suffering from diabetes, West Virginia has the highest rate of adult diabetes in the U.S. The state has an obesity rate of 37.7%, which is up nearly 14% since 2000. The state has been trying to take steps to reduce the prevalence of diabetes in its population, like mandatory physical fitness classes in grade school.
Next: The top 10 states with the lowest diabetes rates.
10. North Dakota
North Dakota has the 10th lowest diabetes rate with the disease impacting only 8.6% of the adult population. Although the state ranks 42nd in diabetes risk, it ranks 15th in adult obesity. It also takes the No. 2 spot for at-risk youth, with 37.1% of children either overweight or obese. The state does require physical education classes for all of its students.
Next: This state is home to the twin cities and a low diabetes rate.
Minnesota ties for the eighth spot with 8.4% of the population dealing with diabetes. Minnesota’s obesity rate is one of the lower rates, with 27.8% of adults falling into the obese category. 27.7% of youth are either overweight or obese, and more than half of the state’s public schools are enrolled in farm-to-school programs.
Next: This northeastern state has a low diabetes rate.
Vermont ties with Minnesota with an 8.4% adult diabetes rate. However, it does have a lower obese adult population of 27.1%. The state has one of the lowest at-risk youth rankings in the nation, with only 22.2% of children either overweight or obese (that is low compared to the rest of the U.S., but not compared to other countries).
Next: This big state has a small diabetes problem.
Only 8.3% of Wyoming’s adult population has been diagnosed with diabetes. Wyoming is also the second-least densely populated state (behind Alaska) with only six people per square mile, which could explain the low diabetes rate. 27.7% of adults are obese, and 27.1% of children are either obese or overweight.
Next: This state has a low diabetes rate and one of the lowest adult obesity rates in the country.
Montana, another sparsely populated state, ranks sixth lowest in diabetes cases with 8.1% of adults living with the disease. It has one of the lowest adult obesity rankings with 25.5% of the adult population considered obese. Montana has one of the lowest at-risk youth rates, with 23.2% of the youth population considered obese or overweight.
Next: Less than 8% of this state’s population has diabetes.
5. South Dakota
South Dakota cracks the 7% mark with only 7.9% of the adult population having diabetes. However, 31.4% of youth are either obese or overweight, and about 30% of adults suffer from hypertension. The state only requires physical education classes in its high schools, which could explain the high number of youth at risk of developing diabetes.
Next: This isn’t technically a state, but it has a very low rate.
4. Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., although not technically a state, ranks fourth in low diabetes rates with 7.7%. It has the second lowest adult obesity rate in the nation, but many of its youth are at risk of developing diabetes. 33.8% of youth are either overweight or obese, which is the 11th highest in the country. All students must participate in physical fitness classes in school, and both elementary and high school students have minimum requirements for time spent in PE classes.
Next: Diabetes isn’t common in the least densely populated state.
Alaska, the least densely populated state, only sees 7.5% of its adult population suffering from diabetes. As of 2010, only 50,000 adults had been diagnosed with diabetes. Interestingly, Alaska has the second highest toddler obesity rate in the nation, with close to 20% of toddlers considered obese.
Next: This state has the lowest hypertension rate in the nation.
Only 7.2% of Utah’s adult population has diabetes. The state also has the lowest hypertension rate in the country as well as the lowest overweight/obese youth population at 19.2% (some would say that number is still too high). Utah requires physical fitness courses for its middle school and high school students but not its elementary school students.
Next: This state has both the lowest diabetes rate and the lowest obesity rate in the country.
Colorado’s adult diabetes rate is the lowest in the nation at 6.6%. Colorado also has the lowest adult obesity rate in the country at 22.3% and the second lowest hypertension rate behind Utah. However, it only ranks 36th in the nation for percentage of youth at risk of developing diabetes. Colorado does not require physical education courses for any of its grade school students.
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