Special Report

States With The Best and Worst Diets

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.

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