There’s good news and there’s bad news about the state of obesity in the United States. The good? Obesity rates have essentially remained steady over the past year. The bad? They are still very, very high.
That’s the overall takeaway from the annual report on obesity released this week by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which found that nationally, more than 30 percent of adults are now obese. Additionally, nearly 17 percent of 2 to 19 year olds and more than 8 percent of children ages 2 to 5 are obese.
“Efforts to prevent and reduce obesity over the past decade have made a difference. Stabilizing rates is an accomplishment,” said Jeffrey Levi, executive director of TFAH. “However, given the continued high rates, it isn’t time to celebrate. We’ve learned that if we invest in effective programs, we can see signs of progress. But, we still haven’t invested enough to really tip the scales yet.”
The 12th annual report found that rates of obesity now exceed 35 percent in three states (Arkansas, West Virginia and Mississippi), are at or above 30 percent in 22 states and are not below 21 percent in any. The state-by-state analysis is based on 2014 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The numbers are a huge spike from just a few decades ago.
In 1980, no state had an obesity rate above 15 percent, and in 1991, no state had a rate above 20 percent, the researchers said.
Of course, obesity has huge health ramifications: Obesity puts some 78 million Americans at an increased risk for a range of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer. It also is one costly epidemic, adding nearly $150 billion to annual medical costs in the U.S., according to the CDC.
Without further ado, let’s look at the 10 states with the highest obesity rates in the country.
10. South Carolina
Obesity rate: 32.1 percent
The Palmetto State ranks No. 10 on the list, with 32.1 percent of its adult residents qualifying as obese. Seven of the 10 states with the highest rates are in the South and 23 of the 25 states with the highest rates of obesity are in the South and Midwest.
9. North Dakota
Obesity rate: 32.2 percent
North Dakota now has the ninth highest adult obesity rate in the nation but it fares a little better with its obesity rankings for 2- to 4-year-olds from low-income families (No. 27) and 10- to 17-year-olds (No. 20).
Obesity rate: 32.6
Ohio was among the states that experienced a jump in its obesity rate in 2014. Ohio’s adult obesity rate is currently 32.6 percent, up from 20.6 percent in 2000.
Obesity rate: 32.7 percent
Indiana’s adult obesity rate is currently 32.7 percent, up from 20.5 percent in 2000 and from 13.3 percent in 1990.
Obesity rate: 33 percent