States With the Best and Worst Diets

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6. California
> Adults eating vegetables at least once a day: 81.4% (8th highest)
> Adults eating fruit at least once a day: 64.2% (Tied — 6th highest)
> Students who drink soda/pop at least once a day 14.2%
> Obesity rate: 24.2% (4th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 14.3% (20th highest)

Residents of California are among the healthiest nationwide. The 24.2% adult obesity rate in California is well below the national obesity rate of 28.9%. A slew of factors can contribute to a low obesity rate in a population. One such factor is exercise, and only 20.0% of adults in California do not engage in physical activities during their free time, which is well below the national inactivity rate of 25.9%.

In addition to regular exercise, 81.4% of adults incorporate vegetables into their diet at least once a day, more than the national proportion of 77.9%. Even kids in the state demonstrate healthy habits, most notably in their choice to avoid soft drinks. Only 14.2% of high school students in California drink soda once a day, well below the national share of 20.4% of ninth to 12th graders who report such soda consumption.

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7. Massachusetts
> Adults eating vegetables at least once a day: 81.7% (6th highest)
> Adults eating fruit at least once a day: 66.0% (3rd highest)
> Students who drink soda/pop at least once a day 13.8%
> Obesity rate: 24.3% (5th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 10.4% (Tied — 9th lowest)

Higher income households have access to a wider range of healthy options related to diet. Partially as a result, residents of wealthier states tend to report healthier eating habits. With a median household income of $75,297 a year — the fourth highest of any state — Massachusetts is no exception. Some 66.0% of adults in the states consume fruit at least once every day, and 81.7% consume vegetables at least once daily, each among the largest shares of any state.

A healthy diet is often critical to maintaining a healthy weight, and only 24.3% of adults in Massachusetts are obese. In comparison, 28.9% of American adults are obese.

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8. Connecticut
> Adults eating vegetables at least once a day: 80.5% (13th highest)
> Adults eating fruit at least once a day: 64.5% (5th highest)
> Students who drink soda/pop at least once a day 11.9%
> Obesity rate: 25.3% (9th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 9.8% (4th lowest)

Residents of this New England state are more likely to earn higher incomes, which provides them better access to healthier food and exercise options.The median household income in Connecticut is $73,433 a year, considerably higher than the national median income of $57,617. At 9.8%, Connecticut’s poverty rate is the fourth lowest among states and far below the national poverty rate of 14.0%.

Widespread financial security means more adults in Connecticut have access to healthy food options. Some 80.5% of adults in the state consume vegetables at least once daily and another 64.5% consume fruit at least once per day — each among the larger shares compared to other states.

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9. Maine
> Adults eating vegetables at least once a day: 81.7% (6th highest)
> Adults eating fruit at least once a day: 64.8% (4th highest)
> Students who drink soda/pop at least once a day N/A
> Obesity rate: 30.0% (24th highest)
> Poverty rate: 12.5% (21st lowest)

Most New England states rank among the top 10 for healthy diets, and Maine is among them. Households facing serious financial hardship are less likely to be able to afford healthy diets and lifestyles. In Maine, only 12.5% of the population lives below the poverty line, a smaller share than the 14.0% of Americans. Across the state, 64.8% of adults eat fruit daily, and 81.7% consume vegetables every day — above the 59.8% and 77.9% comparable shares nationwide.

Consumption of healthy foods does not necessarily mean Maine residents are not also over-indulging in unhealthy foods. Despite the higher fruit and vegetable consumption, some 30.0% of adults in the state are obese, above the 28.9% share of American adults.

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10. Utah
> Adults eating vegetables at least once a day: 80.0% (15th highest)
> Adults eating fruit at least once a day: 62.4% (Tied — 15th highest)
> Students who drink soda/pop at least once a day N/A
> Obesity rate: 24.5% (6th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 10.2% (7th lowest)

A strong majority of adults in Utah not only eat vegetables and fruit at least once daily — at 80.0% and 62.4%, respectively — but also make it a point to exercise in their free time. Only 20.3% do not engage in physical activity during their leisure time, which is well below the nationwide proportion of 25.9%.

Healthy dietary habits in combination with frequent exercise can help keep unhealthy weight off. The adult obesity rate in Utah of 24.5% is the sixth lowest among all the states and well below the national rate of 28.9%.