The prevalence of obesity among American adults has been on the rise for decades. While the obesity epidemic has ushered in wave after wave of fad diets and weight loss schemes, the fact remains that a balanced diet is one of the simplest and most important aspects of a healthy lifestyle.
Despite near-universal understanding of the importance of regular fruit and vegetable consumption, not all American adults make it a priority. Nationwide, only about 78% of adults eat vegetables at least once a day, and an even smaller 60% share consume fruit on a daily basis. Additionally, despite the known adverse health effects associated with high sugar consumption, about one in five American high school students drink soda every day.
While maintaining a balanced diet may seem straightforward, dietary habits are subject to a range of social and economic factors, and as a result, vary considerably by region and state.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed fruit, vegetable, and soda consumption rates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to identify the states with the best (and worst) diets.
Though a balanced diet is only one aspect of a healthy lifestyle, states with larger shares of residents who regularly consume fruits and vegetables tend to report other healthy behaviors which in turn support healthier outcomes — including lower obesity rates and lower incidence of premature death.
Consuming healthy amounts of fruits and vegetables appears more common in some regions, with the states with the best diets concentrated in the Northeast and least healthy confined exclusively to the South.
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