Healthcare Economy

This Is America's Most Obese State

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has just released its adult obesity report for 2020. It is part of the agency’s larger Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

Among the report’s most troubling conclusions was that 35% or more adults were obese in 16 states (see list below). That reportedly is an increase from nine states in 2018.

The CDC has laid out the dangers of obesity over and over again. Obesity can cause type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. The financial cost is also staggering. Another CDC report observed that, in 2008 dollars, obesity cost America about $147 billion a year in medical care expenses.

Obesity has a very close relationship to education. The new report shows that people over 18 years old who do not have a high school degree or equivalent had the highest self-reported obesity of 38.8%. Next, adults with some college have an obesity rate of 34.1%. Among high school graduates, the level is 34.0%. Among people who are college graduates, the level is 25.0%.

The level of obesity also varies by region of the country. In the Midwest and in the South, the rates were each 34.1%. In the West, the number was 29.3%, and the rate in the Northeast was 28.0%.

Southern states have especially high rates of obesity. The highest of them all is Mississippi at 39.7%, followed by West Virginia and Alabama, each with rates of about 39%.

These are the 20 states with the highest obesity:

  • Mississippi (39.7%)
  • West Virginia (39.1%)
  • Alabama (39.0%)
  • Louisiana (38.1%)
  • Indiana (36.8%)
  • Kentucky (36.6%)
  • Delaware (36.5%)
  • Iowa (36.5%)
  • Arkansas (36.4%)
  • Oklahoma (36.4%)
  • South Carolina (36.2%)
  • Texas (35.8%)
  • Tennessee (35.6%)
  • Ohio (35.5%)
  • Kansas (35.3%)
  • Michigan (35.2%)
  • Georgia (34.3%)
  • Missouri (34.0%)
  • Nebraska (34.0%)
  • North Carolina (33.6%)

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