Special Report

States With the Best and Worst Diets

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11. Idaho
> Adults eating vegetables at least once a day: 81.4% (8th highest)
> Adults eating fruit at least once a day: 60.6% (23rd highest)
> Students who drink soda/pop at least once a day 13.5%
> Obesity rate: 28.6% (18th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 14.4% (19th highest)

Several Western states are home to large shares of adults who report relatively healthy lifestyles. Idaho is one of them. A larger than typical share of adults in the state engage in aerobic and muscle building exercises on a weekly basis. Additionally, adults in the state are slightly more likely than most to eat fruits and vegetables every day.

A balanced diet, when coupled with a physically active lifestyle, can lengthen life expectancy. In Idaho, there are only 310 deaths per 100,000 people younger than age 75, which is below the nationwide premature death rate of 333 per 100,000.

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12. New Jersey
> Adults eating vegetables at least once a day: 77.9% (25th highest)
> Adults eating fruit at least once a day: 64.1% (8th highest)
> Students who drink soda/pop at least once a day N/A
> Obesity rate: 25.6% (10th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 10.4% (Tied– 9th lowest)

New Jersey’s median household income of $76,126 is higher than in most states — and wealthier households have access to a greater range of healthy options related to diet and lifestyle. While 77.9% of adults in New Jersey eat vegetables at least once daily, in line with the national share, 64.1% of adults in the Garden State incorporate fruit into their daily diet, well above the 59.8% share of adults nationwide.

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13. Nevada
> Adults eating vegetables at least once a day: 80.8% (11th highest)
> Adults eating fruit at least once a day: 63.1% (12th highest)
> Students who drink soda/pop at least once a day 13.7%
> Obesity rate: 26.7% (15th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 13.8% (23rd highest)

An estimated 80.8% of adults in Nevada eat vegetables daily, and 63.1% eat fruit at least once per day, each among the higher shares nationwide. Access to healthy foods facilitates residents’ ability to maintain healthy diets, and only about 12% of households in Nevada struggle to afford food at least once during the year, slightly fewer than the 13% share of U.S. households.

Children in the state also report healthier dietary habits than children in most other states. For example, only 13.7% of high schoolers in the state drink soda daily, below the comparable 20.4% of high schoolers nationwide.

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14. Montana
> Adults eating vegetables at least once a day: 80.7% (12th highest)
> Adults eating fruit at least once a day: 60.7% (Tied — 21st highest)
> Students who drink soda/pop at least once a day 18.6%
> Obesity rate: 23.6% (3rd lowest)
> Poverty rate: 13.3% (Tied — 24th highest)

Some 80.7% of adults in Montana eat vegetables at least once per day, and 60.7% eat fruit at least once daily, both of which exceed the national figures of 77.9% and 59.8%, respectively. Additionally, 40.1% of adults adhere to the recommended amount of weekly exercise — the highest share of any state and well above the average nationwide share of 31.3%.

Frequent exercise and healthy dietary habits can contribute to healthier body weight. The adult obesity rate in Montana of 23.6% is the third lowest of any state and well below the national obesity rate of 28.9%.

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15. Delaware
> Adults eating vegetables at least once a day: 79.3% (17th highest)
> Adults eating fruit at least once a day: 61.8% (18th highest)
> Students who drink soda/pop at least once a day 19.1%
> Obesity rate: 29.7% (23rd lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.7% (16th lowest)

Some 79.3% of adults in Delaware eat vegetables at least once a day, and 61.8% consume fruit daily — each above the corresponding shares of adults nationwide. Combined with regular exercise, a balanced diet can help individuals maintain a healthy weight. However, adults in Delaware are less likely to regularly engage in moderate or intensely vigorous exercise. The relative high inactivity rate has likely contributed to the relatively high shares of overweight and obese adults in the state. Some 37.2% of adults in the state are overweight, and 29.7% are obese — each larger than the respective 35.7% and 28.9% rates nationwide.

Children in the state are more likely to be less healthy than their peers nationwide in both behavior and outcomes. High schoolers in Delaware are less likely to eat fruit every day than the typical American high schooler, and they are more likely to be obese.