Special Report

States With The Best and Worst Diets

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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