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Southern states struggle the most with obesity, new report shows

A new analysis shows that not only do the states struggle with obesity, but they also struggle with the illnesses obesity causes.
Southern states struggle the most with obesity, new report shows
Posted at 12:05 PM, Nov 15, 2023

A new report from WalletHub indicates that Southern states are most likely to struggle with obesity and fitness. 

According to WalletHub, West Virginia struggles the most with obesity, followed by Mississippi, Kentucky, Louisiana and Arkansas. WalletHub used Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data coupled with recent findings by the Physical Activity Council for its report. 

WalletHub's report doesn't just take into account a state's obesity rate but also factors in how many adults within a state struggle with obesity-related illnesses such as high blood pressure and diabetes. It also factors in the diets of residents within a state and their physical activity levels. 

In addition to being the most obese state in the U.S., West Virginia also ranks at the top for health consequences of obesity. West Virginia is tied for having the highest percentage of adults with high cholesterol and has the most adults with Type 2 diabetes. 

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West Virginia is tied for fourth for the percentage of physically inactive adults. The data shows that over 70% of residents are either obese or overweight in West Virginia. 

On the other end of the spectrum, Colorado ranks as the least overweight state, followed by Utah, Massachusetts, Hawaii and California. The District of Columbia would rank No. 5, ahead of California, if considered a state. 

Colorado has the lowest proportion of overweight residents. Among states, it has the highest proportion of physically active adults. Colorado also has the lowest proportion of adults with high blood pressure and has the third-lowest percentage of adults with Type 2 diabetes. 

The body mass index determines if a person is considered obese. It uses a simple formula combining a person's weight and height. A person with a body mass index between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered a normal weight. Those with a BMI between 25 and 29.9 are overweight, while those with a BMI of over 30 are considered obese.

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Someone who is 6 feet tall and weighs 184 pounds would be considered overweight. Six feet tall and 221 pounds would be considered obese. For someone 5 feet 6 inches, 155 pounds is considered overweight, while 186 pounds is obese.

"Obesity is associated with a greater risk of developing chronic diseases and sustaining injuries, both of which can result in having to take time off of work and reduced productivity," said Arizona State University nutrition professor Sonia Vega-Lopez. "This impacts the economy not only because of the loss of work time but also because this sick time incurs costs to the healthcare system."

According to the WalletHub data, these 10 states struggle the most with obesity:

1) West Virginia

2) Mississippi

3) Kentucky

4) Louisiana

5) Arkansas

6) Tennessee

7) Alabama

8) Texas

9) South Carolina

10) Delaware

These 10 states struggled the least with obesity, the data indicated. 

1) Colorado

2) Utah

3) Massachusetts 

4) Hawaii

5) District of Columbia

6) California

7) Minnesota

8) Washington

9)Montana

10) Vermont


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