Special Report

States With the Best and Worst Diets

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26. Florida
> Adults eating vegetables at least once a day: 78.7% (18th highest)
> Adults eating fruit at least once a day: 61.0% (20th highest)
> Students who drink soda/pop at least once a day 20.8%
> Obesity rate: 26.8% (16th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 14.7% (Tied — 16th highest)

Adults in Florida do relatively well incorporating vegetables and fruit into their diet at least once a day. An above-average 78.7% of adults in state eat vegetables daily and 61.0% consume fruit daily. Dietary habits among children in the state are slightly worse than average, however.

Some 20.8% of high school students grades nine to 12 drink soda at least once every day, which is slightly above the national average of 20.4%. In addition, only 24.1% of children in this age group regularly exercise the recommended amount, a smaller share than the 27.1% share nationwide.

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27. Pennsylvania
> Adults eating vegetables at least once a day: 75.8% (18th lowest)
> Adults eating fruit at least once a day: 60.7% (Tied — 21st highest)
> Students who drink soda/pop at least once a day 18.2%
> Obesity rate: 30.0% (24th highest)
> Poverty rate: 12.9% (23rd lowest)

Pennsylvania reports the worst dietary habits of any state in the Northeast. Only 75.8% of adults in Pennsylvania eat vegetables on a daily basis, below the 77.9% share of adults nationwide. Additionally, high school students in the state are less likely to eat fruits and vegetables on a daily basis than the typical American high school student.

One area where the state performs better than average is fruit consumption among adults. Some 60.7% of adults in Pennsylvania eat fruit every day compared to 59.8% of adults nationwide. Improved diets would likely help reduce adult obesity in the state, which at 30.0% is slightly above the 28.9% U.S. adult obesity rate.

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28. Illinois
> Adults eating vegetables at least once a day: 75.7% (17th lowest)
> Adults eating fruit at least once a day: 61.5% (19th highest)
> Students who drink soda/pop at least once a day 18.3%
> Obesity rate: 30.8% (18th highest)
> Poverty rate: 13.0% (24th lowest)

Residents of Illinois are more likely than most Americans to have some unhealthy dietary habits. Some 75.7% of adults eat vegetables at least once daily, below the national share of 77.9% of adults. A larger share of adults maintaining a balanced diet may help reduce the state’s obesity rate. Illinois’ adult obesity rate of 30.8% is the 18th highest rate of all states and above the nationwide rate of 28.9%.

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29. Nebraska
> Adults eating vegetables at least once a day: 75.3% (14th lowest)
> Adults eating fruit at least once a day: 58.9% (22nd lowest)
> Students who drink soda/pop at least once a day 20.4%
> Obesity rate: 31.4% (14th highest)
> Poverty rate: 11.4% (15th lowest)

Daily adult fruit and vegetable consumption rates in Nebraska, at 58.9% and 75.3% respectively, are lower than average. Nationwide, 59.8% of American adults consume fruit every day and 77.9% eat vegetables at least once daily.

The relatively poor dietary habits in the state are partly attributable to the disproportionate share of residents who struggle to afford food. Nearly 15% of area households struggle to afford varied diets and often have to resort to federal assistance of food pantries to eat — a larger share than the 13% of American households reporting similarly low food security.

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30. Hawaii
> Adults eating vegetables at least once a day: 78.6% (20th highest)
> Adults eating fruit at least once a day: 58.7% (21st lowest)
> Students who drink soda/pop at least once a day 13.4%
> Obesity rate: 22.7% (2nd lowest)
> Poverty rate: 9.3% (2nd lowest)

Dietary habits are mixed for both adults and children in Hawaii. For example, while the share of adults in the state who report eating fruit at least once a day of 58.7% is smaller than the comparable 59.8% U.S. share, regular vegetable consumption is slightly more common. An estimated 78.6% of adults in Hawaii eat vegetables every day compared to 77.9% of adults nationwide.

Similarly, while high school age children in the state are less likely than most to consume fruit on a daily basis, they do a good job limiting some healthy behavior. Only 13.4% of high school students consume a soft drink at least once a day — well below the national rate of 20.4%.