Special Report

States With The Best and Worst Diets

As researchers have shown time and again, a poor diet is the single largest determinant of unhealthy weight gain, and is a principal component of unhealthy lifestyles more generally. While exercise habits have remained roughly unchanged among Americans over the past several decades, obesity rates have skyrocketed. The eating habits of Americans are related to several different factors and are varied between states.

To rank the diets of each state, 24/7 Wall St. constructed an index based on five behavioral factors, including vegetable, fruit, and soda consumption by adults and high school students. California leads the nation with the healthiest eating habits, while Mississippi residents have the nation’s worst diets.

Click here to see how healthy each state’s diet is.

In most states with the worst diets, relatively few adults report regular fruit and vegetable consumption. Nationwide, 61.5% of American adults consume fruits once a day and 77.6% consume vegetables daily. In all but six of the 25 states reporting better eating habits, fruit consumption was higher than the national average. Similarly, only in five of these states was vegetable consumption worse than across the country. The opposite tended to be true for the 25 states with poor eating habits.

Partially as a result of the poor eating habits in these states, negative health outcomes such as obesity tended to be far higher than in other states. All but six of the 25 states with healthier diets had an obesity rate lower than the national obesity rate of 28.3%, while nearly all of the states with poorer diets reported higher obesity rates. A poor diet — and obesity — contributes to increased risk of a range of other health problems, including diabetes and heart disease.

These conditions may help explain the higher incidence of premature death in the states reporting the worse diets. Nationwide, an average of 6,622 years of life are lost each year due to preventable deaths per 100,000 people. In all but one of the 10 states with the worst diets, the incidence of premature death exceeds 8,000 years per 100,000 people. In all but one of the 10 states with the best diets, on the other hand, the number of years each year lost due to preventable death is less than 6,000 years per 100,000 people.

An unhealthy diet can also lead to other negative outcomes beyond poor health. Poor nutrition has been tied to a lack of focus among school children, and it can hinder children’s overall development.

Poor diets in general, and obesity in particular, have large economic costs as well. The annual estimated cost of obesity in America is between $147 billion and $210 billion. This excludes the cost of job absenteeism, which is more likely among overweight workers and is pegged at around $4.3 billion.

The high cost of poor health is likely both contributing to, and is felt more acutely in, the states with the worst diets. The poverty rate in most of these states is higher than the national rate of 15.5%. Among the 25 states with the best diet, on the other hand, the poverty rate is higher than the national rate in only three.

To determine the quality of diets in each state, 24/7 Wall St. constructed an index based on five behavioral measures: the percentage of adults who report consuming fruit less than once daily, the percentage of adults who report consuming vegetables less than once daily, the proportion of high school students who report less than daily fruit and vegetable consumption, and the percentage of high school students consuming soda at least once per day — all for 2013 from the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The incidence of premature death, measured in the average annual number of years lost due to preventable death prior to age 75 also came from the CDC. The percentage of households in each state with food insecurity or very low food insecurity came from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and is an average of survey data taken between 2012 and 2014.

These are the states with the best and worst diets.

1. California
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
82.7% (4th highest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 69.6% (the highest)
> Obesity rate: 24.1% (5th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 16.4% (17th highest)

On the whole, California’s population eats better than the population of every other state. Nearly 70% of the state’s adult population eats fruit at least once each day, the highest proportion nationwide, and much higher than the 61.5% of adults nationwide who do. Also, 82.7% of California adults consume vegetables once daily, the fourth highest percentage in the nation. Healthy eating is considered essential to maintaining healthy weight. Not surprisingly, only 24.1% of the state’s adults are obese, well below the national adult obesity rate of 28.3%. Higher-income states tend to be healthier on the whole, and California is no exception. The typical household earns $61,933 a year, $8,276 more than the national median income.

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2. Vermont
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
83.5% (2nd highest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 67.2% (2nd highest)
> Obesity rate: 24.7% (7th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 12.2% (15th lowest)

Vermont residents have among the healthiest diets in the country. Around 67% of the state’s adult population eats fruit at least once each day, and 83.5% of Vermont adults consume vegetables once daily, much lower than the respective national proportions of 61.5% and 77.6%. Healthy eating is considered essential to maintaining healthy weight. Not surprisingly, only 24.7% of the state’s adults are obese, well below the national adult obesity rate of 28.3%. The presence of farmer’s markets may also play a partial role. There are 15 farmer’s markets per 100,000 Vermont residents, the highest concentration nationwide.

3. Oregon
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
83.7% (the highest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 66.6% (4th highest)
> Obesity rate: 26.5% (15th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 16.6% (14th highest)

Oregon residents have among the healthiest diets in the country. Only 66.6% of the state’s adult population eats fruit at least once each day compared to 61.5% of adults nationwide who do not. In addition, 83.7% of Oregon adults consume vegetables at least once daily, the highest proportion of all states and significantly higher than the national proportion of 77.6%. Healthy exercise habits are more common in states where residents report healthy diets, and Oregon is a notable example. While 26.3% of adults nationwide report no leisure time physical activity, just 18.5% of Oregon adults report such low levels of exercise, the second lowest share nationwide.

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4. New Hampshire
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
83.2% (3rd highest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 66.2% (6th highest)
> Obesity rate: 26.7% (16th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 9.2% (the lowest)

New Hampshire residents have among the healthiest diets in the country. For example, 83.2% of New Hampshire adults consume vegetables at least once daily, significantly higher than the 77.6% of adults nationwide who report similar vegetable consumption. The state’s students also eat better than students in most states. High income states tend to be healthier on the whole, and New Hampshire is no exception. The typical household earns $66,532 a year, $12,875 more than the national median income. New Hampshire’s poverty rate, at just 9.2%, is also the lowest of all states.

5. Utah
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
79.6% (11th highest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 63.5% (14th highest)
> Obesity rate: 24.1% (5th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.7% (11th lowest)

On the whole, Utah’s population eats better than the population of all but a few states. Excessive consumption of sugary beverages does not appear to be a problem in Utah, for example. Only 13.5% of Utah high school students drink at least one soda each day, significantly below the national share of 27% of 9th-12th graders who report such soda consumption. Healthy eating is considered essential to maintaining healthy weight. Not surprisingly, only 24.1% of the state’s adults are obese, well below the national adult obesity rate of 28.3%. Higher-income states also tend to be healthier on the whole, and Utah is no exception. Utah’s annual median household income of $60,922 is $7,265 greater than the national median income.

6. Massachusetts
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
79.9% (9th highest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 67.2% (2nd highest)
> Obesity rate: 23.6% (3rd lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.6% (10th lowest)

Massachusetts residents have among the healthiest diets in the country. The healthy eating habits likely contribute to strong health outcomes among state residents. For example, only 23.6% of the state’s adults are obese, well below the national adult obesity rate of 28.3%. The state’s students also eat better and consume sugary drinks less frequently than students in most states. Only 14.2% of students drink at least one soda each day, significantly below the national share of 27% of 9th-12th graders who do. Higher-income states tend to be healthier on the whole, and the high incomes in Massachusetts have likely helped improve health outcomes and diets in the state. The typical household in the state earns $69,160 a year, $15,503 more than the national median income.

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7. Maine
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
82.3% (5th highest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 66.0% (7th highest)
> Obesity rate: 28.9% (24th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 14.1% (22nd lowest)

Only a handful of states have a population with healthier eating habits than Maine’s population. About 66.0% of the state’s adults report eating fruit at least once each day compared to 61.5% of adults nationwide. Also, 82.3% of Maine adults consume vegetables at least once daily versus the national proportion of 77.6%. Excessive consumption of sugary beverages does not appear to be a problem in Maine. Only 9.6% of Maine’s households reported being unable to afford healthy food, one of the lowest levels of food insecurity in the nation. This likely contributed to the state’s relatively healthy diet.

8. Connecticut
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
77.8% (23rd highest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 66.3% (5th highest)
> Obesity rate: 25.0% (8th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 10.8% (3rd lowest)

Wealthy Americans tend to report better health outcomes. The typical Connecticut household earns $70,048 a year, the fourth highest annual median household income of all states and $16,391 greater than the national median income. About 66.3% of the state’s adult population reports eating fruit at least once each day versus the comparable national proportion of 61.5%. Excessive consumption of sugary beverages also does not appear to be a problem in Connecticut, as only 13.9% of students drink at least one soda each day, roughly half the national share of 27% of 9th-12th graders who do. As in just a few other states, Connecticut levies a tax on regular soda. A soda tax is one of the most commonly recommended policies by obesity researchers to combat this unhealthy habit, and the tax may have had an effect in the state.

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9. Washington
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
81.8% (6th highest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 63.4% (15th highest)
> Obesity rate: 27.2% (19th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 13.2% (19th lowest)

On the whole, Washington’s population eats better than the population of all but a handful of states. For example, 81.8% of Washington adults consume vegetables at least once daily, versus the 77.6% of adults nationwide who do. Washington households also tend to have higher incomes than households in many other states, and wealthier people frequently eat better. The annual median household income in the state of $61,366 is $7,709 more than the national median income. Healthy eating habits and high incomes are both associated with longer lives, and the incidence of premature death in Washington is below the national average. Each year, an average of 5,506 years of life are lost per 100,000 people due to preventable deaths, one of the lowest such figures nationwide.

10. Colorado
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
80.9% (7th highest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 64.3% (12th highest)
> Obesity rate: 21.3% (the lowest)
> Poverty rate: 12.0% (13th lowest)

Diet has been shown to be by far the most important determinant of physical health, especially obesity, and Colorado is a case in point. Healthy eating habits in Colorado, where residents have among the healthiest diets in the country, have likely contributed to the state’s obesity rate of 21.3% — the lowest in the nation. Nearly 81% of Colorado adults consume vegetables at least once daily, a higher proportion than in all but a handful of states. Higher-income states tend to be healthier on the whole, and Colorado is no exception. The typical household earns $61,303 a year, $7,646 more than the national median income.

11. Idaho
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
79.6% (11th highest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 61.5% (23rd highest)
> Obesity rate: 29.6% (23rd highest)
> Poverty rate: 14.8% (25th highest)

Low household incomes often contribute to a greater incidence of food insecurity. However, in Idaho, where the median household income of $46,328 is lower than the national median, households are among the least likely to struggle with food insecurity. Just 11.4% of households reported inadequate resources for food, one of the lowest percentages in the country. In addition to healthy diets among adults in the state, excessive consumption of sugary beverages among Idaho’s younger residents does not appear to be a problem. Only 15.4% of students drink at least one soda each day, significantly below the national share of 27% of 9th-12th graders who do.

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12. New Jersey
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
78.6% (16th highest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 64.7% (9th highest)
> Obesity rate: 26.3% (12th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.1% (4th lowest)

As many as 10.4% of households in New Jersey report annual income of more than $200,000, the highest proportion in the nation. The state’s poverty rate of 11.1% is also the fourth lowest of all states. As is the case in other parts of the country, the high incomes likely contribute to healthy diets, and in turn, to relatively strong health outcomes. One feature of an unhealthy diet, excessive consumption of sugary beverages, does not appear to be a problem in New Jersey. Only 12.2% of state students drink at least one soda each day, considerably lower than the 27% of 9th-12th graders nationally who do. New Jersey is also one of just a few states tax soda. Healthy habits and policies designed to combat obesity likely contributed to New Jersey’s relatively low obesity rate of 26.3%, which is 12th lowest of all states.

13. Rhode Island
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
78.6% (16th highest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 64.7% (9th highest)
> Obesity rate: 27.3% (20th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 14.3% (24th lowest)

On the whole, Rhode Island’s population eats better than the population in most other states. Excessive consumption of sugary beverages, for example, does not appear to be a problem in Rhode Island. Only 17.4% of state students drink at least one soda each day, significantly below the national share of 27% of 9th-12th graders who do. The presence of farmer’s markets may be another potential factor contributing to the healthy eating choices among Rhode Island residents. There are roughly six farmer’s markets per 100,000 state residents, more than double the national concentration.

14. Montana
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
79.5% (13th highest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 61.4% (24th highest)
> Obesity rate: 24.6% (6th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 15.4% (22nd highest)

Excessive consumption of sugary beverages is one of the least healthy lifestyle choices among Americans. The relatively infrequent consumption of such beverages contributes to the relatively healthy diets in Montana. Only 18.2% of state students drink at least one soda each day, significantly below the national share of 27% of 9th-12th graders who do. Montana adults, too, have among the healthiest diets in the country. Like a number of other states where residents have healthy diets, Montana residents also report healthy exercise habits. As many as 57.8% of state adults report regular aerobic physical exercise, the fifth highest share nationwide. The exercise and healthy diets likely drove down the obesity rate in Montana. Only 24.6% of the state’s adults are obese, the sixth lowest share and well below the national adult obesity rate of 28.3%.

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15. New York
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
78.0% (21st highest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 65.5% (8th highest)
> Obesity rate: 25.4% (9th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 15.9% (19th highest)

On the whole, New Yorkers have some of the healthiest diets in the nation. Just over 65% of adults report daily fruit consumption, the eighth highest proportion of all states. Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg supported a ban on large sugary drinks, which was famously rejected by a New York Supreme Court judge. Although the state does not have a large soda tax, excessive consumption of sugary beverages is not as serious of an issue in New York — at least compared to other states. Only 20.4% of state students drink at least one soda each day, significantly below the national share of 27% of 9th-12th graders who do. Higher-income states tend to be healthier on the whole, and New York is no exception. The typical household earns $58,878 a year, $5,221 more than the national median income.

16. Alaska
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
80.8% (8th highest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 60.3% (21st lowest)
> Obesity rate: 28.4% (23rd lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.2% (6th lowest)

Unlike most states where residents report relatively healthy diets, Alaska’s obesity rate is not especially low. At 28.4%, it is in line with the national rate. The percentage of adults who are overweight, at 37.2%, is the second highest in the nation. Still, 80.8% of Alaskan adults consume vegetables at least once daily, one of the highest such proportions nationwide. Excessive consumption of sugary beverages also does not appear to be a problem in Alaska. Only 15.8% of state students drink at least one soda each day, significantly below the national share of 27% of 9th-12th graders who do. As is the case in many other states, high incomes in Alaska likely contribute to healthier diets and better health outcomes. The typical household earns $71,583 a year, $17,926 more than the national median income.

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17. Wisconsin
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
74.2% (11th lowest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 62.2% (20th highest)
> Obesity rate: 29.8% (22nd highest)
> Poverty rate: 13.2% (19th lowest)

Wisconsin’s population has a diet that is not particularly healthy or unhealthy, relative to the populations of all U.S. states. Wisconsin residents have a diet that is aligned with the nation as a whole. Around 62% of the state’s adults eat fruit at least once each day, which is roughly in line with the nation as a whole. Students, however eat a slightly better than average diet, with 67.9% of those in grades 9-12 consuming fruits on a daily basis, compared to the national share of 62.6% of 9th-12th graders who report the same. Wisconsin’s obesity rate is also roughly aligned with the nation, with 29.8% of the state’s adults living with obesity compared to 28.3% of adults nationwide who do.

18. Wyoming
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
79.9% (9th highest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 59.1% (17th lowest)
> Obesity rate: 27.8% (21st lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.2% (6th lowest)

Wyoming residents have a diet that is aligned with the nation as a whole. Nearly 60% of state adults eat fruit every day, similar to the corresponding national rate of 61.5%. Students also eat an average diet, with 61.2% of Wyoming high school students eating fruit at least once per day, nearly identical to the national share of 62.6%. Healthy eating is essential to maintaining a healthy body weight. Wyoming’s adult obesity rate of 27.8% is also nearly the same as the national adult obesity rate of 28.3%.

19. Maryland
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
78.0% (21st highest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 64.1% (13th highest)
> Obesity rate: 28.3% (22nd lowest)
> Poverty rate: 10.1% (2nd lowest)

Maryland’s adults do not eat particularly well, but they are also not among the least healthy eaters in the country. Young adults, too, eat an average diet, with 62.2% of those in grades 9-12 consuming vegetables at least once daily, in line with the corresponding national share of 61.5%. Obesity rates are closely tied to eating habits. Not surprisingly, Maryland’s obesity rate is also identical to the national rate, with 28.3% of the state’s adults living with obesity compared to 28.3% of adults nationwide who are obese.

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20. Virginia
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
78.6% (16th highest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 62.6% (17th highest)
> Obesity rate: 27.2% (19th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.8% (12th lowest)

Around 63% of Virginia adults eat fruit at least once daily, a rate roughly in line with the nation as a whole. Residents also eat vegetables at a rate similar to the national average rate. Soda consumption, however, often a clear indicator of obesity, is actually below average in the state. Some 21.7% of state high school students drink soda at least once a day, lower than the 27.0% of 9th-12th graders nationwide who do. While soda consumption is below average, Virginia’s obesity rate is roughly aligned with the nation, with 27.2% of the state’s adults living with obesity compared to 28.3% of adults nationwide who do.

21. Nevada
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
79.2% (14th highest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 64.4% (11th highest)
> Obesity rate: 26.2% (11th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 15.2% (23rd highest)

Nevada’s adults appear to eat significantly healthier than its youth. About 64% of Nevadans 18 older and eat fruit daily, the 11th largest share in the country. On the other hand, 58.8% of those in grades 9-12 consume fruit at least once daily, below the corresponding national share of 62.6%. The state ranks middle of the road, but not because residents do not have access to healthy food. Only 2.9% of the population reported very low food security, the lowest share in the country.

22. South Dakota
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
75.5% (16th lowest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 60.7% (24th lowest)
> Obesity rate: 29.9% (21st highest)
> Poverty rate: 14.2% (23rd lowest)

South Dakota residents’ diet is not particularly healthy or unhealthy, relative to all U.S. states. Roughly 61% of the state’s adults eat fruit at least once each day, which is just slightly below the corresponding national share of 62%. High school students in the state do not eat especially health or unhealthy diets compared to high schoolers in all U.S. states, with 63.1% of those in grades 9-12 eating at least one fruit every day, close to the national proportion of 62.6%. South Dakota’s obesity rate is also roughly aligned with the nation, with 29.9% of the state’s adults living with obesity compared to 28.3% of adults nationwide who do.

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23. Illinois
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
76.0% (20th lowest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 63.3% (16th highest)
> Obesity rate: 29.4% (25th highest)
> Poverty rate: 14.4% (25th lowest)

Sugary beverages are one of the leading causes of obesity, and a smaller share Illinois residents drink soda, compared to the national average share. Some 22.0% of state high school students report drinking at least one soda a day compared to 27.0% of students nationwide. The state has a tax on both soda sold in stores and in vending machines, which may have helped lower the consumption of soda. The state is more closely aligned with the nation in fruit and vegetable consumption. Illinois’s obesity rate is also roughly inline with the national rate, with 29.4% of the state’s adults living with obesity compared to 28.3% of adults nationwide who live with obesity.

24. Michigan
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
75.2% (14th lowest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 62.3% (19th highest)
> Obesity rate: 31.5% (11th highest)
> Poverty rate: 16.2% (18th highest)

Michigan residents’ diet, on average, is aligned with the nation as a whole. Roughly 62% of the state’s adults eat fruit at least once each day, which is roughly in line with the nation as a whole. Residents also eat vegetables at a rate similar to the national rate. Students, too, eat an average diet, with 60.3% of those in grades 9-12 consuming vegetables less than once daily, close to the corresponding national share of 62.6%.

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25. Arizona
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
76.2% (21st lowest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 60.5% (22nd lowest)
> Obesity rate: 26.8% (17th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 18.2% (10th highest)

Arizona’s population ranks 25th in the country for healthy eating. This is unusual, given the difficulty the state’s families have affording healthy food. Nearly 20% of the state’s population lives with food insecurity, meaning they are forced to limit their diet choices because of a lack of income, the second worst rate in the country. The incidence of even more severe food insecurity is also high in the state, as more than 8% of Arizona’s families eat less due to budgetary constraints, the worst rate in the United States.

26. New Mexico
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
78.5% (19th highest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 60.8% (25th highest)
> Obesity rate: 26.4% (14th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 21.3% (2nd highest)

New Mexico has the second highest poverty rate in the country, at 21.3%, compared to a national rate of 15.5%. While poverty and unhealthy eating tend to coincide, New Mexico residents’ average diet is not particularly healthy or unhealthy, relative to other state populations. Slightly more than 60% of the state’s adults eat fruit on a daily basis, which is on par with the nation as a whole. New Mexico’s obesity rate is also similar to that of the nation, with 26.4% of the state’s adults living with obesity compared to 28.3% of adults nationwide who do.

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27. Nebraska
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
76.7% (24th lowest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 60.3% (21st lowest)
> Obesity rate: 29.6% (23rd highest)
> Poverty rate: 12.4% (16th lowest)

Around 60% of Nebraska adults eat fruit at least once each day, which is roughly in line with the nation as a whole. Residents also eat vegetables at a rate similar to the national average rate. Nebraska’s obesity rate is also close to the national rate, with 29.6% of the state’s adults living with obesity compared to 28.3% of adults nationwide who do. Nebraska’s poverty rate of 12.4% is one of the lower rates compared with other states. However, a relatively high proportion of households in the state, 16.7%, report inadequate resources to purchase food, the ninth highest level of food insecurity nationwide.

28. Minnesota
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
76.4% (23rd lowest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 61.8% (22nd highest)
> Obesity rate: 25.5% (10th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.5% (9th lowest)

Approximately 62% of Minnesota adults eat fruit at least once each day, which is roughly in line with the nation as a whole. Residents also eat vegetables at a rate similar to the national rate. A typical household earns $61,481 annually, well above the national median household income of $51,075. While the high incomes do not help improve diets in Minnesota as much as high incomes tend to do elsewhere, the incidence of food insecurity is among the lowest in the country. Just 10.4% of households struggle to afford food in Minnesota, one of the lowest food insecurity rates nationwide.

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29. Hawaii
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
76.9% (25th lowest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 60.8% (25th highest)
> Obesity rate: 21.8% (2nd lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.4% (7th lowest)

Populations that eat well usually tend to exercise more. Hawaii, however, is an exception to this rule. While both the state’s adults and high school students are far more likely to exercise regularly, the state ranks perfectly neutral compared to national levels in both fruit and vegetable consumption, as well as in soda drinking.

30. Kansas
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
77.1% (25th highest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 58.2% (15th lowest)
> Obesity rate: 30.0% (19th highest)
> Poverty rate: 13.6% (21st lowest)

The population of Kansas does not stand out as having healthy or unhealthy diets compared to the rest of the country. Roughly 58% of the state’s adults eat fruit at least once each day, slightly below the national rate of 61.5%. Vegetable consumption among state residents is on par with national consumption levels. Also, the typical Kansas high school student is about as likely to report healthy eating habits as his or her peers nationwide, with 59.5% of those in grades 9-12 consuming fruit once daily, in line with the corresponding national share of 62.6%.

31. Florida
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
79.2% (14th highest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 62.0% (21st highest)
> Obesity rate: 26.4% (14th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 16.5% (16th highest)

About 62% of Florida’s adults do not eat fruit at least once each day, roughly in line with the nation as a whole. Also, residents eat vegetables at a rate similar to the national average rate. Of students in grades 9-12, 60.8% consume at least one fruit daily, also similar to the national share of 62.6%. Florida’s obesity rate of 26.4% is slightly lower than the 28.3% of adults nationwide who live with obesity.

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32. North Dakota
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
72.6% (5th lowest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 59.7% (19th lowest)
> Obesity rate: 31.0% (14th highest)
> Poverty rate: 11.5% (9th lowest)

Roughly 60% of North Dakota’s adults eat fruit at least once each day, slightly lower than the national share of adults who consume fruit on a daily basis. On the other hand, 72.6% of adults eat vegetables daily, one of the lowest such proportions. A low share of the state’s residents consume vegetables despite a high concentration of farmer’s markets in the North Dakota. There are around 10 farmer’s markets per 100,000 state residents, the second highest concentration in the nation. North Dakota is also somewhat unusual in that it ranks on the lower end of this list despite having a very low poverty rate and very high incomes.

33. Pennsylvania
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
75.3% (15th lowest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 62.5% (18th highest)
> Obesity rate: 30.0% (19th highest)
> Poverty rate: 13.6% (21st lowest)

Pennsylvanians maintain a diet similar to the nation as a whole. Across the state, 62.5% of adults report eating fruit at least once daily, roughly in line with the 61.5% of adults nationwide who eat fruit daily. The state also eats its vegetables with a similar frequency as the national rate. About three-quarters of Pennsylvanian adults consume vegetables at least once throughout the day. Likewise, 77.6% of Americans report eating vegetables with a similar frequency. Not surprisingly, the state’s health outcomes are similar to the health outcomes nationwide. The national obesity rate is 28.3%. Similarly, 30.0% of Pennsylvania adults are obese.

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34. Ohio
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
73.7% (9th lowest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 58.4% (16th lowest)
> Obesity rate: 30.4% (16th highest)
> Poverty rate: 15.8% (20th highest)

Ohio’s diet does not stand out as healthy or unhealthy compared to the populations of all U.S. states. When surveyed about their eating habits, 58.4% of Ohioans reported eating fruit at least once daily, similar to the 61.5% of respondents across America who claimed the same. Students in Ohio also maintain an average diet, with 61.2% of 9th-12th graders consuming fruit at least once per day, similar to the 62.6% of 9th-12th graders nationwide who do. Not surprisingly, Ohio’s health outcomes are representative of the nation as a whole. Ohio’s adult obesity rate of 30.4% is just about 2 percentage points higher than the national obesity rate of 28.3%.

35. Delaware
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
71.1% (3rd lowest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 59.6% (18th lowest)
> Obesity rate: 31.1% (13th highest)
> Poverty rate: 12.5% (17th lowest)

Delaware’s population is much worse at eating fruit than vegetables on a daily basis. The state has the third lowest share in the country of adults who report eating vegetables every day, but it ranks better, at 18th, in daily fruit consumption among residents 18 years old and over. The lower rate of vegetable consumption in the state may result in long-term health problems and shorter lifespans for Delaware’s population. Each year, an average of 7,359 years are lost per 100,000 state residents due to premature death, one of the higher level of premature in the country.

36. North Carolina
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
77.6% (24th highest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 57.7% (14th lowest)
> Obesity rate: 29.4% (25th highest)
> Poverty rate: 17.2% (12th highest)

North Carolinians maintain one of the worst diets nationwide. About 28% of state high schoolers drink soda — one of the worst components of a young person’s diet — at least once a day, the ninth highest share of any state. This is despite the fact that North Carolina taxes soda at a higher rate than other food. Also, 42.7% of state students eat fruit less than once a day, the 11th highest share of students with low fruit intake nationwide. Adults in the state do not fare much better. Like their younger counterparts, 57.7% of North Carolina adults eat fruit once daily, one of the lower shares of any state.

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37. Iowa
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
73.2% (8th lowest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 60.7% (24th lowest)
> Obesity rate: 31.3% (12th highest)
> Poverty rate: 12.2% (15th lowest)

By several measures, diets in Iowa are slightly worse than they are in most other states. For instance, only 73.2% of adults in the state eat at least one serving of vegetables daily. Nationally, 77.6% of adults manage to eat vegetables on a daily basis. One consequence of poor eating habits in the state may be a higher than average obesity rate. While 28.3% of adults are obese nationally, in Iowa, 31.3% do, higher than in all but 11 other states.

38. Missouri
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
75.7% (18th lowest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 56.9% (12th lowest)
> Obesity rate: 30.4% (16th highest)
> Poverty rate: 15.5% (21st highest)

Missouri’s population has one of the worst diets, on average, in the country. This is likely due in large part to food insecurity. About 22% of Missouri households cannot afford quality, healthy food, a larger share than in any other state in the country.

About 15% of high school students in the state are obese, a higher rate among teenagers than in all but seven other states. This is partially the result of a poor diet. Only 55% of Missouri high school students eat fruit every day, well below the corresponding national share of 62.6%.

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39. Texas
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
78.5% (19th highest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 57.3% (13th lowest)
> Obesity rate: 30.9% (15th highest)
> Poverty rate: 17.2% (12th highest)

When it comes to diet, Texans are among the least healthy eaters in the country. The obesity rate of 30.9% in the Lone Star State is slightly higher than the national adult obesity rate of 28.3%. Only 47.4% of state high school students consume vegetables daily, the smallest share of any state in the country. Poor diet and poor health outcomes may be due in part to state residents’ inability to afford quality, healthy food. As many as 17.2% of Texas households struggle with food insecurity, the fifth highest share in the country. The state’s poverty rate of 17.2% is also higher than the 15.5% national rate.

40. Georgia
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
76.3% (22nd lowest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 56.8% (11th lowest)
> Obesity rate: 30.3% (18th highest)
> Poverty rate: 18.3% (7th highest)

Georgia’s population has one of the worst diets, on average, in the country. The problem is particularly bad among Georgia’s youth. Only 56.9% of high school students eat at least one serving of fruit each day, well below the corresponding national share of 62.6%. Poverty and poor diets tend to coincide, at least in part because low incomes make it difficult to eat well and because eating poorly can lead to expensive medical problems down the road. Georgia’s poverty rate of 18.3% is seventh highest in the country and much higher than the national rate of 15.5%.

41. West Virginia
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
75.8% (19th lowest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 54.0% (7th lowest)
> Obesity rate: 35.1% (the highest)
> Poverty rate: 18.3% (7th highest)

Only in a few states do residents rank as having worse diets, on average, than in West Virginia. With an obesity rate of 35.1%, West Virginia is home to the highest share of obese adults of any state in the country. West Virginia has one of the highest poverty rates in the country, at 18.3%, compared to a national rate of 15.5%.

The state’s youth also appear to have poor dietary habits. Despite additional taxes on soda from both vending machines and stores, 38% of West Virginia high school students drink at least one soda each day, well above the 27% of 9th-12th graders nationally who do.

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42. Indiana
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
73.1% (6th lowest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 56.4% (10th lowest)
> Obesity rate: 31.8% (9th highest)
> Poverty rate: 15.2% (23rd highest)

When it comes to diet, Indiana residents are among the least healthy eaters in the country. The state has one of the lowest shares of adults eating fruit at least once per day, at 56.4%. Nationally, 61.5% of adults manage to eat fruit daily. Indiana also has one of the highest obesity rates in the country at 31.8% of adults compared to 28.3% of adults nationally, a likely consequence of the state residents’ poor eating habits. Unlike many of the least healthy states, where a large share of households cannot afford to eat regular healthy meals, Indiana residents enjoy relative food security. Only 11.7% of Indiana households struggle to afford healthy food, a smaller share than the national percentage of 14.3% of households.

43. Kentucky
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
75.1% (13th lowest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 53.8% (5th lowest)
> Obesity rate: 33.2% (5th highest)
> Poverty rate: 19.1% (5th highest)

Kentucky’s population has one of the worst diets, on average, in the country. The 53.8% share of adults who consume at least one serving of fruit a day is roughly eight percentage points below the national share of 61.5%. Likely as a result of the state residents’ poor eating habits, Kentucky has one of the highest obesity rates in the country at 33.2% of adults compared to 28.3% of adults nationally. States with higher poverty rates tend to also have higher shares of adults eating unhealthily. Kentucky has one of the highest poverty rates in the country, at 19.1%, compared to a national rate of 15.5%.

44. Tennessee
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
75.7% (18th lowest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 55.2% (9th lowest)
> Obesity rate: 33.7% (4th highest)
> Poverty rate: 18.3% (7th highest)

Only in a few states do residents rank as having worse diets, on average, than in Tennessee. This may be at least in part because state household meals are limited by their budgets. Tennessee’s poverty rate of 18.3% is one of the highest in the country and higher than the national rate of 15.5%. About 16% of households in Tennessee struggle to afford quality food. Food insecurity likely contributes to poor diets statewide. Only about 55% of adults eat at least one serving of fruit a day, a share far below the corresponding national average of 61.5%. Likely linked to state residents’ poor eating habits, Tennessee has one of the highest obesity rates in the country at 33.7% of adults compared to 28.3% of adults nationally. Only three states have a higher obesity rate than Tennessee.

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45. South Carolina
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
73.2% (8th lowest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 54.8% (8th lowest)
> Obesity rate: 31.7% (10th highest)
> Poverty rate: 18.0% (11th highest)

When it comes to diet, South Carolina residents are among the least healthy eaters in the country. Only 54.8% of all adults in the state eat fruit daily, while 61.5% manage to do so nationwide. A healthy diet is an important part of maintaining good health. Likely as a result of the state residents’ poor eating habits, South Carolina has one of the highest obesity rates in the country at 31.7% of adults compared to 28.3% of adults nationally. Poor diets also likely contributed to a higher rate of premature death in the state. About 8,281 years of potential life are lost each year due to premature death before age 75 for every 100,000 South Carolina residents, more years lost than in all but eight other states.

46. Alabama
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
74.2% (11th lowest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 54.0% (7th lowest)
> Obesity rate: 32.4% (8th highest)
> Poverty rate: 19.3% (4th highest)

Alabama’s population has one of the worst diets, on average, in the country. State residents’ poor eating habits likely contribute to a higher than average obesity rate. In Alabama, 32.4% of adults are obese compared to 28.3% of adults nationally. Poor diets also likely contributed to a higher rate of premature death in the state. About 9,508 years of potential life are lost each year due to premature death before age 75 for every 100,000 Alabama residents, more years lost than in all but two other states.

Poverty and poor diets tend to coincide, likely both because low incomes make it difficult to eat well and because eating poorly can lead to expensive medical problems down the road. Alabama’s poverty rate of 19.3% is one of the highest in the country and much higher than the national rate of 15.5%.

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47. Arkansas
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
72.0% (4th lowest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 49.5% (the lowest)
> Obesity rate: 34.6% (3rd highest)
> Poverty rate: 18.9% (6th highest)

Less than half of all adults in Arkansas eat fruit daily, a much smaller share than the 61.5% of adults who fail to do so nationwide. A healthy diet is crucial to good health. Likely as a result of the state residents’ poor eating habits, Arkansas has one of the highest obesity rates in the country at 34.6% of adults compared to 28.3% of adults nationally. States with low incomes tend have more residents who eat poorly. Arkansas has one of the highest poverty rates in the country, at 18.9%, compared to a national rate of 15.5%. High poverty also likely contributes to the relatively high share of households unable to afford healthy food. Nearly 17% of Arkansas households struggle with food insecurity, a higher share than the corresponding national share of roughly 14%.

48. Oklahoma
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
74.7% (12th lowest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 49.6% (2nd lowest)
> Obesity rate: 32.5% (7th highest)
> Poverty rate: 16.6% (14th highest)

When it comes to diet, Oklahoma residents are among the least healthy eaters in the country. Less than half of all adults in the state manage to eat fruit on a daily basis, a much smaller share than the 61.5% of adults nationwide who do. The state’s youth also appear to eat poorly, with 52.1% of Oklahoma high school students eating one fruit per day, much low than the corresponding national share of 62.6%. Soda is often perceived as one of the worst parts of young adults’ diets, and it appears to be particularly problematic in Oklahoma. As many as 31.3% of state students drink at least one soda each day, slightly higher than the national share of 27% of 9th-12th graders who do. A healthy diet is crucial to staying healthy. A likely consequence of state residents’ poor eating habits, Oklahoma has one of the highest obesity rates in the country at 32.5% of adults compared to 28.3% of adults nationally.

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49. Louisiana
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
67.3% (the lowest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 52.5% (4th lowest)
> Obesity rate: 33.1% (6th highest)
> Poverty rate: 19.8% (3rd highest)

Only Mississippi residents rank as having worse diets, on average, than Louisiana residents. For instance, while 77.6% of adults nationwide eat vegetables daily, only 67.3% of Louisiana’s adult population said the same, a smaller share than in any state. The state’s poor diet likely contributes to the health of its residents. The state has one of the highest obesity rates in the country at 33.1% of adults compared to 28.3% of adults nationally. Low incomes tend to tend to correlate with unhealthy diets. Louisiana’s median household income of $44,555 is the sixth lowest in the country.

50. Mississippi
> Pct. consuming vegetables at least once daily:
69.4% (2nd lowest)
> Pct. consuming fruit at least once daily: 50.1% (3rd lowest)
> Obesity rate: 35.1% (the highest)
> Poverty rate: 21.5% (the highest)

Mississippi’s population has the worst diet, on average, in the country. The state has one of the smallest shares of adults eating fruit at least once per day, at 50.1%, much smaller than the 61.5% of adults who manage to do so nationwide. In addition, only 69.4% of Mississippi’s population eats vegetables every day, the second smallest share in the country and well below the 77.6% of adults nationwide who said the same. The state’s youth also appear to eat poorly, with 48.9% of Mississippi high school students eating at least one vegetable per day, well above the corresponding national share of 62.6%. Likely as a result of the state residents’ poor eating habits, Mississippi has one of the highest obesity rates in the country at 35.1% of adults compared to 28.3% of adults nationally. Poverty and poor diets tend to coincide, both because low incomes make it difficult to eat well and because eating poorly can lead to expensive medical problems down the road. Mississippi’s poverty rate of 21.5% is one of the highest in the country and much higher than the national rate of 15.5%.

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