“Fat” is becoming the new normal in America. According to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than seven in 10 U.S. adults aged 20 and older are either overweight or obese. Rates are lower for children and adolescents but have risen steadily almost every year. So prevalent has America’s obesity problem grown that the weight-loss industry continues to expand. This year, Americans are expected to spend more than $68 billion just on programs designed to help them shed the extra pounds. The U.S. spends in total nearly $200 billion in annual health care costs related to obesity.
New findings by the Physical Activity Council suggest a need for more aggressive efforts to combat the issue. According to the report, nearly 81.5 million Americans aged 6 and older were completely inactive in 2016. Lack of physical activity is a leading cause of obesity, in addition to genetics, emotional instability and sleeplessness.
But the problem is bigger in some states than in others. To determine where obesity and overweight most dangerously persist, WalletHub’s analysts compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 19 key metrics. Our data set ranges from share of obese and overweight population to sugary-beverage consumption among adolescents to obesity-related health care costs. Read on for our findings, expert commentary from a panel of researchers and a full description of our methodology.
For a more local perspective on the obesity and overweight problem in the U.S., check out WalletHub’s Fattest Cities report. Also to help spread awareness about diabetes, WalletHub assembled an interesting infographic exploring the impact of the disease as well as what folks are doing to fight back.
Most & Least Obese States
Although this report examines the prevalence of obesity, it also evaluates the levels of inactivity and overweight in each state. However, given the particularly harmful effects of obesity, we constructed a separate table below that focuses just on obesity rates to highlight the states in which the problem is most concerning. Both adults and children were considered for this separate ranking. A rank of No. 1 corresponds with the highest obesity rate.
Ask the Experts
Our collective medical tab of nearly $200 billion is just one of the consequences of a perpetually unhealthy lifestyle that leads to obesity. To shed more light on the issue and find solutions that consumers and local governments can follow, we asked a panel of experts to share their thoughts on the following key questions:
What are some tips for eating healthy without breaking the bank?
What are the biggest mistakes people make when trying to lose weight?
What policies should government pursue to combat obesity and rein in the cost of health care?
What is the impact of obesity on the economy and worker productivity?
Should overweight people pay a higher premium for their health insurance? Do you think they will in the future, based on recent health care proposals?