Special Report

States With the Best and Worst Diets

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16. Minnesota
> Adults eating vegetables at least once a day: 77.6% (24th lowest)
> Adults eating fruit at least once a day: 62.9% (13th highest)
> Students who drink soda/pop at least once a day N/A
> Obesity rate: 26.1% (12th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 9.9% (Tied — 6th lowest)

Residents of states with higher incomes tend to be healthier than residents of states with lower incomes. The median household income in Minnesota is $65,599 a year, well above the national median income of $57,617. Despite higher than typical incomes, only 77.6% of adults in Minnesota eat vegetables every day, roughly in line with the comparable share nationwide. Adults in the state are more likely to incorporate fruit in their daily diet. Some 62.9% of adults in the the state consume fruit each day compared to only 59.8% of adults nationwide.

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17. Rhode Island
> Adults eating vegetables at least once a day: 76.5% (20th lowest)
> Adults eating fruit at least once a day: 62.4% (Tied — 15th highest)
> Students who drink soda/pop at least once a day 12.6%
> Obesity rate: 26.0% (11th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 12.8% (22nd lowest)

New England states tend to report far healthier dietary habits than is typical. Rhode Island is one exception, however, as two primary aspects of a balanced diet — fruit and vegetable consumption — are somewhat inconsistent. For example, while a larger than typical 62.4% of adults in the state eat fruit every day, only 76.5% of adults eat vegetables at least once daily, a smaller share than the 77.9% of adults nationwide.

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18. New York
> Adults eating vegetables at least once a day: 77.6% (24th lowest)
> Adults eating fruit at least once a day: 62.6% (14th highest)
> Students who drink soda/pop at least once a day 14.0%
> Obesity rate: 25.0% (7th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 14.7% (Tied — 16th highest)

New York is one of the healthiest U.S. states. The adult obesity rate of 25.0% is the seventh lowest of all states and much lower than the national obesity rate of 28.9%. While the percentage of adults consuming vegetables at least one time per day of 77.6% falls just short of the national average share of 77.9%, the percentage of adults including fruit in their diet at least once each day is higher than is typical nationwide. Some 62.6% of adults in New York eat fruit at least once a day, the 14th highest share of any state and well above the national share of 59.8%.

Adults are not the only segment of the population exhibiting healthy habits. Only 14.0% of students in grades nine to 12 opt for a can of soda each day, much less than the national average of 20.4%. Excessive consumption of sugar over time can lead to obesity and chronic diseases like diabetes, and soda is more often than not, chock-full of sugar.

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19. Texas
> Adults eating vegetables at least once a day: 80.5% (13th highest)
> Adults eating fruit at least once a day: 57.5% (Tied — 18th lowest)
> Students who drink soda/pop at least once a day N/A
> Obesity rate: 32.4% (10th highest)
> Poverty rate: 15.6% (12th highest)

Dietary habits among adults in the Lone Star State are mixed. For example, only 57.5% of adults in Texas eat fruit daily, compared to 59.8% of adults nationwide. However, an estimated 80.5% of adults consume vegetables on a daily basis, a larger share than the 77.9% of adults nationwide.

In addition to a balanced diet, regular physical exercise can help individuals maintain a healthy weight. However, adults in Texas are far less likely to exercise regularly than the typical American adult. Likely partially as a result, the state’s adult obesity rate of 32.4% is greater than the U.S. rate of 28.9%.

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20. Maryland
> Adults eating vegetables at least once a day: 78.7% (18th highest)
> Adults eating fruit at least once a day: 64.0% (9th highest)
> Students who drink soda/pop at least once a day 16.6%
> Obesity rate: 28.9% (20th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 9.7% (3rd lowest)

Wealthier individuals tend to have access to a wider range of healthy options related to diet and exercise. The median household income in Maryland of $78,945 a year is the highest of any state and over $21,000 above the national median income of $57,617. Higher median household income is closely associated with higher educational attainment. In Maryland, 39.3% of adults have a bachelor’s degree, the third highest college attainment rate of all states and above the national rate of 31.3%.

Individuals with more education tend to make better choices when it comes to lifestyle and health. High incomes and high educational attainment rates in Maryland may explain some healthy behaviors. Some 64.0% of adults in the state eat fruit at least once every day, well above the the national share of 59.8% and among the top 10 highest shares of all states. Adults in Maryland are also more likely to consume vegetables every day than those in most other states.