Special Report

Most Obese States in America

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Recent public health crises, namely the COVID-19 pandemic and the opioid epidemic, have overshadowed a longer-standing problem in the United States — obesity. Since the early 1960s, the share of American adults under age 75 who are considered obese more than tripled. Currently, an estimated 72.2 million Americans age 20 and up are obese, or 30% of the age group. 

Obesity status is determined by body mass index, or BMI — a ratio of height to body weight. Americans with a BMI of 30 or higher are considered obese, and as such, are at greater risk of diabetes, stroke, hypertension, heart disease, breathing problems, certain cancers, and mortality, according to the CDC. Obesity can also detract from overall quality of life and contribute to depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses. 

Using data from County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, 24/7 Tempo identified the most obese states in the country. States are ranked by the share of adults who are considered obese, from the smallest to the largest. 

States with the highest obesity rates are concentrated in the South, while those with the lowest obesity rates are in the West and Northeast. 

Though many factors, including genetics, diet, and medical conditions, contribute to increased risk of obesity, regular physical activity is one of the best ways to help maintain a healthy weight. In states where obesity is more common, the share of adults who do not exercise regularly is usually higher than the 22.7% share of adults nationwide. Similarly, states with lower obesity rates typically have more physically active populations. Here is a look at the most physically active cities in America. 

By some measures, health outcomes are worse than average in states with high obesity rates. For example, obesity is a leading risk factor for Type 2 diabetes, and in most states where a larger than average share of adults are obese, adult diabetes rates are also higher than the 10.5% national rate.

Click here to see America’s most obese states
Click here to read our detailed methodology

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50. Colorado
> Adult obesity rate: 22.4%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 14.8% (the lowest)
> Adults with diabetes: 6.6% (the lowest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 13.8% (9th lowest)

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49. California
> Adult obesity rate: 24.3%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 17.7% (5th lowest)
> Adults with diabetes: 8.8% (6th lowest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 17.6% (22nd highest)

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48. Hawaii
> Adult obesity rate: 24.6%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 19.6% (10th lowest)
> Adults with diabetes: 11.1% (17th highest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 15.4% (18th lowest)

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47. Massachusetts
> Adult obesity rate: 25.0%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 20.0% (12th lowest)
> Adults with diabetes: 8.7% (5th lowest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 13.5% (7th lowest)

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46. Connecticut
> Adult obesity rate: 26.3%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 19.9% (11th lowest)
> Adults with diabetes: 9.2% (10th lowest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 13.0% (4th lowest)

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45. New York
> Adult obesity rate: 26.4%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 23.4% (19th highest)
> Adults with diabetes: 10.1% (25th lowest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 16.3% (22nd lowest)

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44. New Jersey
> Adult obesity rate: 27.0%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 26.6% (11th highest)
> Adults with diabetes: 9.9% (20th lowest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 15.5% (19th lowest)

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43. Utah
> Adult obesity rate: 27.0%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 16.7% (3rd lowest)
> Adults with diabetes: 7.5% (2nd lowest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 14.8% (13th lowest)

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42. Vermont
> Adult obesity rate: 27.0%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 18.4% (6th lowest)
> Adults with diabetes: 8.8% (7th lowest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 12.8% (the lowest)

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41. Nevada
> Adult obesity rate: 27.1%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 22.5% (24th lowest)
> Adults with diabetes: 10.5% (22nd highest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 19.1% (12th highest)

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40. Montana
> Adult obesity rate: 27.1%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 21.7% (19th lowest)
> Adults with diabetes: 8.9% (8th lowest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 14.1% (11th lowest)

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39. Florida
> Adult obesity rate: 27.2%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 25.8% (15th highest)
> Adults with diabetes: 10.8% (20th highest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 19.5% (10th highest)

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38. New Mexico
> Adult obesity rate: 27.3%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 19.0% (7th lowest)
> Adults with diabetes: 9.5% (15th lowest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 20.3% (9th highest)

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37. Arizona
> Adult obesity rate: 27.9%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 21.2% (17th lowest)
> Adults with diabetes: 9.6% (16th lowest — tied)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 18.6% (14th highest)

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36. Rhode Island
> Adult obesity rate: 28.5%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 23.5% (18th highest)
> Adults with diabetes: 10.1% (24th lowest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 16.5% (25th lowest)

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35. New Hampshire
> Adult obesity rate: 28.6%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 20.8% (16th lowest)
> Adults with diabetes: 9.6% (16th lowest — tied)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 12.8% (2nd lowest)

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34. Washington
> Adult obesity rate: 28.6%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 16.4% (2nd lowest)
> Adults with diabetes: 9.3% (11th lowest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 15.0% (14th lowest)

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33. Minnesota
> Adult obesity rate: 29.0%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 19.6% (9th lowest)
> Adults with diabetes: 8.5% (4th lowest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 12.9% (3rd lowest)

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32. Idaho
> Adult obesity rate: 29.0%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 20.4% (14th lowest)
> Adults with diabetes: 9.3% (12th lowest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 15.1% (15th lowest)

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31. Wyoming
> Adult obesity rate: 29.2%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 23.1% (22nd highest)
> Adults with diabetes: 9.0% (9th lowest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 15.3% (17th lowest)

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30. Oregon
> Adult obesity rate: 29.3%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 17.3% (4th lowest)
> Adults with diabetes: 9.7% (18th lowest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 18.2% (18th highest)

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29. Illinois
> Adult obesity rate: 29.7%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 21.6% (18th lowest)
> Adults with diabetes: 9.9% (19th lowest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 15.9% (21st lowest)

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28. Maine
> Adult obesity rate: 29.8%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 20.8% (15th lowest)
> Adults with diabetes: 10.4% (24th highest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 17.1% (24th highest)

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27. Virginia
> Adult obesity rate: 30.5%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 22.2% (23rd lowest)
> Adults with diabetes: 10.7% (21st highest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 16.6% (25th highest)

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26. Pennsylvania
> Adult obesity rate: 30.8%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 22.0% (22nd lowest)
> Adults with diabetes: 11.0% (19th highest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 17.6% (23rd highest)

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25. Texas
> Adult obesity rate: 31.4%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 23.2% (21st highest)
> Adults with diabetes: 10.2% (25th highest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 18.7% (13th highest)

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24. Maryland
> Adult obesity rate: 31.6%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 21.9% (20th lowest)
> Adults with diabetes: 11.1% (16th highest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 15.2% (16th lowest)

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23. Wisconsin
> Adult obesity rate: 31.7%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 20.3% (13th lowest)
> Adults with diabetes: 9.5% (14th lowest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 14.8% (12th lowest)

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22. Alaska
> Adult obesity rate: 31.9%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 19.3% (8th lowest)
> Adults with diabetes: 8.3% (3rd lowest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 15.6% (20th lowest)

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21. Georgia
> Adult obesity rate: 32.3%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 26.4% (12th highest)
> Adults with diabetes: 12.0% (12th highest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 18.4% (15th highest)

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20. North Carolina
> Adult obesity rate: 32.3%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 23.3% (20th highest)
> Adults with diabetes: 11.5% (14th highest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 18.0% (19th highest)

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19. South Dakota
> Adult obesity rate: 32.4%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 22.0% (21st lowest)
> Adults with diabetes: 10.1% (23rd lowest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 13.4% (5th lowest)

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18. Delaware
> Adult obesity rate: 32.4%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 27.3% (8th highest)
> Adults with diabetes: 11.8% (13th highest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 16.3% (23rd lowest)

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17. Michigan
> Adult obesity rate: 32.4%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 23.1% (24th highest)
> Adults with diabetes: 11.0% (18th highest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 18.3% (16th highest)

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16. Missouri
> Adult obesity rate: 32.5%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 25.5% (16th highest)
> Adults with diabetes: 11.4% (15th highest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 19.5% (11th highest)

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15. Kansas
> Adult obesity rate: 33.0%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 23.9% (17th highest)
> Adults with diabetes: 10.5% (23rd highest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 16.3% (24th lowest)

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14. Tennessee
> Adult obesity rate: 33.3%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 27.2% (9th highest)
> Adults with diabetes: 12.5% (8th highest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 21.2% (7th highest)

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13. Nebraska
> Adult obesity rate: 33.4%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 22.7% (25th highest)
> Adults with diabetes: 10.0% (22nd lowest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 13.8% (10th lowest)

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12. Ohio
> Adult obesity rate: 33.5%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 26.1% (13th highest)
> Adults with diabetes: 12.2% (10th highest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 17.8% (21st highest)

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11. North Dakota
> Adult obesity rate: 33.9%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 23.1% (23rd highest)
> Adults with diabetes: 9.4% (13th lowest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 13.6% (8th lowest)

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10. Indiana
> Adult obesity rate: 33.9%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 26.7% (10th highest)
> Adults with diabetes: 12.1% (11th highest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 18.2% (17th highest)

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9. South Carolina
> Adult obesity rate: 34.0%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 26.0% (14th highest)
> Adults with diabetes: 13.3% (5th highest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 17.8% (20th highest)

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8. Iowa
> Adult obesity rate: 34.3%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 22.6% (25th lowest)
> Adults with diabetes: 9.9% (21st lowest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 13.5% (6th lowest)

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7. Oklahoma
> Adult obesity rate: 34.5%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 27.8% (7th highest)
> Adults with diabetes: 12.3% (9th highest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 20.9% (8th highest)

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6. Kentucky
> Adult obesity rate: 34.6%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 28.7% (4th highest)
> Adults with diabetes: 12.7% (7th highest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 21.8% (4th highest)

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5. Arkansas
> Adult obesity rate: 35.0%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 30.4% (the highest)
> Adults with diabetes: 13.5% (4th highest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 23.3% (2nd highest)

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4. Alabama
> Adult obesity rate: 36.1%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 29.3% (3rd highest)
> Adults with diabetes: 14.5% (3rd highest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 21.4% (6th highest)

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3. Louisiana
> Adult obesity rate: 36.3%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 28.0% (6th highest)
> Adults with diabetes: 13.0% (6th highest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 21.4% (5th highest)

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2. West Virginia
> Adult obesity rate: 37.8%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 28.0% (5th highest)
> Adults with diabetes: 15.1% (the highest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 23.6% (the highest)

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1. Mississippi
> Adult obesity rate: 39.1%
> Adults who don’t exercise: 30.4% (2nd highest)
> Adults with diabetes: 14.6% (2nd highest)
> Adults reporting poor or fair health: 22.1% (3rd highest)

Methodology

To determine America’s most obese states, 24/7 Tempo reviewed adult obesity rates from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute joint program’s 2021 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps report.

The adult obesity rate is defined as the share of adults 20 years and older who report a body mass index of 30 kg/m2 or higher. While the CHR report is from 2021, obesity rate figures published in the report are from 2017.

States were ranked based on the adult obesity rate. Additional information on the share of adults who report no leisure-time physical activity, the share of adults who are diagnosed with diabetes, and the share of adults who report fair or poor health are also from the 2021 CHR.

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