Special Report

The Least Obese County in Every State

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, at greater risk of several serious diseases and conditions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These include diabetes, stroke, hypertension, heart disease, breathing problems, and certain cancers. Obesity can also detract from overall quality of life and contribute to depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses. 

While the U.S. has one of the highest obesity rates in the world, there are parts of the country where obesity remains relatively uncommon. Using data from County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, 24/7 Tempo identified the least obese county in every state. We included all counties and county equivalents, including independent cities, in our analysis. 

Though many factors, including genetics, diet, and medical conditions, contribute to increased risk of obesity, according to the CDC, regular physical activity is one of the best ways to help maintain a healthy weight. In all but a handful of counties on this list, the share of adults who do not exercise regularly is below the corresponding share across the state as a whole. Here is a look at the most physically active cities in America. 

By some measures, health outcomes are better than average in most of these countries as well. For example, obesity is a leading risk factor for Type 2 diabetes, and in nearly all of the counties on this list, diabetes is less common than it is statewide. 

Click here to see the least obese county in every state
Click here to see our detailed methodology