The percentage of overweight and obese people in America has skyrocketed in the last 30 years. The states that now hold the dubious distinction of having the highest population of overweight people in America include Mississippi, Alabama, and West Virginia.
While all states have seen an increase in their overweight populations, these three states have outpaced the rest. Each of these states has an obesity rate in excess of 30%, with about 70% of citizens or more registering as overweight.
Why are these the fattest states in America?
Higher obesity rates are often tied to areas with lower incomes, education levels, and GDP. Some researchers speculate that because the cheapest food is the most processed and lowest nutritional quality, lower income people become obese. These people also may not have the means to access adequate healthcare or join a fitness center. The fattest states in America are largely located in the South. The top 10 most obese states are as follows:
- West Virginia
- South Carolina
Many southern states also have cultures that celebrate food, feasting, and unhealthy nutritional choices. For example, the prevalence of fried food in the south may be helping to contribute to these states’ increased obesity. What we often consider comfort food, mashed potatoes and gravy, chicken potpie, macaroni and cheese, is also native to the south. While these may be delicious meals, they are also extremely high in saturated fat.
What are the skinniest states in America?
The top five skinniest states in America are Colorado, Utah, Connecticut, California, and Rhode Island. These states have obesity rates between 20% and 23%. In comparison, the top ten fattest states all have obesity rates of over 30%.
These states, Colorado especially, create more of a “culture of health” than other states. Physical activity is prized and is participated in by a majority of citizens. Restaurants and grocers emphasize fresh and nutritious choices. Overall, citizens in these states are more aware of nutrition, exercise, and good food choices and prioritize these more highly than other states.
How has obesity increased in America?
Nationally, obesity has increased by .5% this year over last year. That may not seem like much, but consider that this statistic means that there are more than 1.5 million newly obese people in America in the past year!
This also does not take into account the rate of people who are just overweight but not considered obese. Researchers estimate that this number is growing even faster than obesity.
The trend is even more alarming when considered over a greater period of time. Just twenty years ago, no state had an obesity rate that was greater than 15%. Today, only one state has an obesity rate below 20%! In addition, twelve states currently have obesity rates in excess of 30%.
Many experts are looking for states to just hold the line, to reach a point where obesity does not increase. This could signify the tipping point in America’s obesity epidemic. From there, the goal would be to actually decrease the obesity rate in all states.
What are the negative effects of increased obesity?
Increased obesity in America has led to an unprecedented rise in weight related diseases and health problems. The number of Americans with hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease is increasing rapidly.
This increase leads to more strain on our health care system. Overweight and obese people typically require a much higher amount of care over their lifetime than those who maintain a healthy weight. These individuals will pay more for their healthcare, and all Americans will see the impact of this increased demand for care in their insurance premiums.
Obesity also has a drastic negative effect on people’s quality of life. People who are obese will often feel sick, tired, and out of breath. They may not have the energy or the ability to participate in simple tasks, such as playing with children or cleaning the house.
It has been proven that the trend towards obesity is passed within families. Overweight parents are more likely to have overweight children. This is a function not only of genetics but also of upbringing. Children who are raised in a home that does not emphasize nutrition and healthy body composition will inherit those values and then pass them on to their own children, causing a ripple effect through generations.
Overweight and obese people also bear a psychological burden. Despite the prevalence of obesity in American society, it is still stigmatized as unattractive or even repulsive. Obese people may feel judged or criticized by their peers. They may consider themselves unattractive or worth less because of their size.
The rapid increase in overweight and obese persons in America is a major issue for the future of the country. The increased burden on resources and health care, as well as the negative impact on quality of life, may be felt for generations.
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