Special Report

States With the Best and Worst Diets

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31. North Dakota
> Adults eating vegetables at least once a day: 72.5% (5th lowest)
> Adults eating fruit at least once a day: 59.5% (24th lowest)
> Students who drink soda/pop at least once a day 18.7%
> Obesity rate: 31.0% (17th highest)
> Poverty rate: 10.7% (10th lowest)

Financially secure households can afford a wider range of options related to a healthy diet. In North Dakota, only 10.7% of the population lives below the poverty line, well below the U.S. poverty rate of 14.0%. Partially as a result, only 8.8% of households in North Dakota report struggling to afford a varied diet or any food at all at some point during a given year — well below the 13.0% share of American households who are food insecure.

Despite widespread ability to afford healthy food, fruit and vegetable consumption among adults in North Dakota is relatively low. Only 59.5% of adults eat fruit every day, and only 72.5% eat vegetables on a daily basis — lower than the comparable 59.8% and 77.9% rates nationwide.

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32. Michigan
> Adults eating vegetables at least once a day: 75.3% (14th lowest)
> Adults eating fruit at least once a day: 60.3% (Tied — 24th highest)
> Students who drink soda/pop at least once a day 18.9%
> Obesity rate: 31.2% (16th highest)
> Poverty rate: 15.0% (15th lowest)

Some 14.3% of households in Michigan are food insecure, meaning they struggle to afford varied diets or any food at all at some point during the year. This is above the nationwide share of 13.0% of households that are food insecure. The relative lack of food security in the state likely contributes to the below average adult vegetable consumption. Only 75.3% of adults in Michigan eat vegetables at least once daily, the 14th lowest share of all states and below the national share of 77.9%.

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33. Kansas
> Adults eating vegetables at least once a day: 77.7% (25th lowest)
> Adults eating fruit at least once a day: 56.3% (12th lowest)
> Students who drink soda/pop at least once a day N/A
> Obesity rate: 34.2% (7th highest)
> Poverty rate: 12.1% (20th lowest)

A healthy diet is one of the most effective ways to maintain a healthy weight, and in Kansas, 34.2% of adults are obese, well above the 28.9% U.S. adult obesity rate. Perhaps not surprisingly, a large share of adults in Kansas do not have especially healthy eating habits. Only 77.7% of adults eat vegetables daily, and 56.3% consume fruit every day — below the 77.9% and 59.8% U.S. values, respectively.

Regular exercise can also reduce the likelihood of obesity, and adults in Kansas are slightly less likely to lead physically active lives than most American adults.

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34. New Mexico
> Adults eating vegetables at least once a day: 78.5% (21st highest)
> Adults eating fruit at least once a day: 56.9% (14th lowest)
> Students who drink soda/pop at least once a day 21.0%
> Obesity rate: 28.8% (19th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 19.8% (3rd highest)

Lower-income individuals often cannot afford a wide range of healthy options related to diet. In New Mexico, the median household income of $46,748 a year is about $11,000 below the national median income of $57,617 and the seventh lowest among states. Additionally, New Mexico’s 19.8% poverty rate is third highest among states.

Low income is one of the factors that contribute to food insecurity, or limited access to healthy food options. An alarming 17.6% of households in New Mexico are food insecure, well above the national share of 13.0% of households that are food insecure. Due in part to limited access, adults in New Mexico are less likely than than the typical American adult to eat fruit every day and high schoolers in the state are less likely than those nationwide to eat fruits or vegetables regularly.

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35. Indiana
> Adults eating vegetables at least once a day: 73.3% (7th lowest)
> Adults eating fruit at least once a day: 57.1% (Tied — 16th lowest)
> Students who drink soda/pop at least once a day 20.0%
> Obesity rate: 31.3% (15th highest)
> Poverty rate: 14.1% (21st highest)

A well balanced diet can contribute to living a long, healthy life. In Indiana, only 73.3% of adults eat vegetables at least once daily, one of the smallest such shares of any state. An even smaller 57.1% share of adults manage to work fruit into their diet on a daily basis, well below the comparable 59.8% share of adults nationwide.

The relatively large share of adults not consuming enough healthy food may partially explain why premature death is more common in Indiana than across the United States as a whole. For every 100,000 state residents, there are 387 deaths before age 75, compared to a national premature death rate of 333 per 100,000.