Special Report

States With the Best and Worst Diets

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21. Alaska
> Adults eating vegetables at least once a day: 81.1% (10th highest)
> Adults eating fruit at least once a day: 59.0% (23rd lowest)
> Students who drink soda/pop at least once a day 18.8%
> Obesity rate: 29.8% (25th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 9.9% (Tied — 6th lowest)

Low income households are less likely to be able to afford healthy food on a regular basis. In Alaska, the typical household earns $76,440 a year, the second highest median income of any state. Additionally, only 9.9% of the state population lives below the poverty line, well below the 14.0% U.S. poverty rate. Despite widespread financial security, dietary habits among adults in Alaska are mixed. Only 59.0% of Alaskan adults eat fruit daily compared to 59.8% of American adults. However, 81.1% of adults in the state consume vegetables at least once a day, compared to 77.9% of adults nationwide. Alaskan adults are also far more likely to exercise regularly than the typical American adult.

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22. Arizona
> Adults eating vegetables at least once a day: 79.5% (16th highest)
> Adults eating fruit at least once a day: 60.3% (Tied — 24th highest)
> Students who drink soda/pop at least once a day 19.5%
> Obesity rate: 28.4% (17th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 16.4% (8th highest)

Some 79.5% of adults in Arizona include vegetables into their diet at least once everyday — the 16th highest share nationwide and above the 77.9% of American adults.The percentage of adults in state consuming fruits at least once per day, at 60.3%, is also slightly above the national share of 59.8%.

Exercise plays an important role in maintaining optimal health, and only 24.7% of the adult population in Arizona does not engage in any physical activity beyond getting up and going to work. In comparison, 25.9% of adults nationwide lead completely sedentary lives.

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23. Wisconsin
> Adults eating vegetables at least once a day: 76.0% (19th lowest)
> Adults eating fruit at least once a day: 62.1% (17th highest)
> Students who drink soda/pop at least once a day N/A
> Obesity rate: 30.7% (19th highest)
> Poverty rate: 11.8% (Tied — 18th lowest)

Some 62.1% of adults in Wisconsin eat fruit at least once per day, a larger share than in most states. Regular vegetable consumption, however, is slightly less common than it is nationwide. Only 76.0% of adults in Wisconsin eat vegetables regularly compared to 77.9% of American adults.

Regular fruit and vegetable consumption, while important, is only one component of a healthy diet, and Wisconsin’s obesity rate suggests adults in the state may be more likely to indulge in some other unhealthy dietary behaviors. Some 30.7% of adults in Wisconsin are obese, compared to 28.9% of adults nationwide.

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24. Virginia
> Adults eating vegetables at least once a day: 78.3% (24th highest)
> Adults eating fruit at least once a day: 59.9% (25th lowest)
> Students who drink soda/pop at least once a day 17.0%
> Obesity rate: 29.2% (22nd lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.0% (Tied — 12th lowest)

Higher median household income can correlate with better health, as high income households have a wider range of healthy options related to diet and lifestyle. The median household income in Virginia of $68,114 a year is the eighth highest of all the states and over $10,000 above the median income nationwide of $57,617. With relatively widespread financial security, some 78.3% of adults eat vegetables at least one time per day, just above the national share at 77.9%.

Even children in Virginia demonstrate healthier habits than children nationwide. Some 17.0% of students in grades nine to 12 drink soda at least one time a day, which is below the national share of 20.4%.

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25. Wyoming
> Adults eating vegetables at least once a day: 78.5% (21st highest)
> Adults eating fruit at least once a day: 58.2% (19th lowest)
> Students who drink soda/pop at least once a day 21.2%
> Obesity rate: 29.0% (21st lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.3% (Tied — 14th lowest)

Children in Wyoming are more likely to have poorer dietary habits than children nationwide. For example, 21.2% of high schoolers in the state drink soda everyday, a slightly higher share than the 20.4% of high schoolers nationwide. Additionally, high school students in Wyoming are less likely to eat fruit on a daily basis.

Among adults, diets are slightly more mixed. For example, while the share of adults in the state who report eating fruit at least once a day of 58.2% is smaller than the comparable 59.8% U.S. share, regular vegetable consumption is slightly more common. An estimated 78.5% of adults in Wyoming eat vegetables every day compared to 77.9% of adults nationwide.