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10 States with the Highest Obesity Rates 2016

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← VIEW THE UPDATED RESULTS HERE

Click here to calculate your BMI, click here for rankings table, and click here to view interactive maps

In the United States, we are inundated with ads for weight-loss programs, gym memberships, the latest food and exercise trends, and images of thin models and celebrities.

When we go to the doctor’s office, the first thing we do — perhaps reluctantly — is hop on a scale to see how much we weigh.

Our culture is obsessed with weight, and it’s no wonder when you consider that our country ranks high on the Most Obese list. Although some approaches to getting and staying fit can be unhelpful, all have valid underlying concerns that aren’t just about looks.

If you’re concerned about your weight, start comparison shopping to find the best health insurance!

How do I know if I’m obese?

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If you’re not familiar with how someone is deemed overweight or obese, it’s based on a measurement tool called the Body Mass Index (BMI). The typical equation for finding an individual’s BMI is to divide their weight in kilograms by the square of the height in meters. The BMI is one tool people can use to see if they are a healthy weight.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), if your BMI is 25.0 to 30.0, you qualify as overweight. If you have a BMI of 30.0 or higher, you are considered obese.

While the term “overweight” refers to an excess amount of body weight that may come from muscles, bone, fat, and water, “obese” refers strictly to an excess amount of body fat.

In a recent study conducted by the CDC, Colorado was found to have the lowest prevalence of obesity

Though measurements for obesity are based on the BMI — which is sometimes considered a controversial measuring tool — overall the “BMI is easier to measure, has a long history of use, and most important, does an excellent job of predicting disease risk” according to Harvard University’s School of Public Health.

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The Financial Impact

And this propensity for disease risk is a large reason why obesity tends to carry a heavy financial impact as health consequences lead to high medical costs.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “the estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion in 2008 U.S. dollars; the medical costs for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight.”

A person’s inclination toward higher medical costs can also mean high health and life insurance premiums. 

Being overweight or obese might be a pre-existing medical condition, but insurers can still charge more. 

Some employers are even allowed to charge obese employees 30 to 50 percent more in what they contribute toward their health insurance benefit if they are unwilling to participate in a company-approved weight-loss program. 

To illustrate the impact of obesity in our country, the ten states with the worst obesity prevalence are listed below.

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Methodology

Information compiled for this study was gathered from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Stateofobesity.org, and Harvard University’s School of Public Health.

Each state is ranked according to its 2015 adult obesity prevalence.

You will also find the following information:

  • 1995 obesity prevalence percentage
  • The difference over 20 years in percentage increase – (2015 data minus 1995 data) divided by 1995 data

For the purpose of illustration and upcoming Holidays (Halloween and Thanksgiving), we’ve also included each state’s favorite beer, candy, and the calorie count per serving. (Note: This information does not directly correlate with the rankings.)

Most Obese Adult Residents by State

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(Click here to view this interactive graph)

#10 – Texas (tie)

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  • 2015 obesity prevalence: 32.40 percent prevalent
  • 1995 obesity prevalence: 16.00 percent prevalent
  • Difference over 20 years: 102.50 percent increase
  • Favorite beer (calorie count): Atrial Rubicite (174)
  • Favorite candy (calorie count): Candy corn (150)

#10 – Missouri (tie)

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  • 2015 obesity prevalence: 32.40 percent prevalent
  • 1995 obesity prevalence: 16.90 percent prevalent
  • Difference over 20 years: 91.72 percent increase
  • Favorite beer (calorie count): Barrel-Aged Abraxas (330)
  • Favorite candy (calorie count): Hershey’s Kisses (22)

#9 – Tennessee

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  • 2015 obesity prevalence: 33.80 percent prevalent
  • 1995 obesity prevalence: 16.40 percent prevalent
  • Difference over 20 years: 106.10 percent increase
  • Favorite beer (calorie count):  Astronaut Status (315)
  • Favorite candy (calorie count): Candy corn (150)

#8 – Oklahoma

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  • 2015 obesity prevalence: 33.90 percent prevalent
  • 1995 obesity prevalence: 12.90 percent prevalent
  • Difference over 20 years: 162.79 percent increase
  • Favorite beer (calorie count): BOMB! (390)
  • Favorite candy (calorie count): M&M’s (142)

#7 – Kansas

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  • 2015 obesity prevalence: 34.20 percent prevalent
  • 1995 obesity prevalence: 13.50 percent prevalent
  • Difference over 20 years: 153.33 percent increase
  • Favorite beer (calorie count): Old Backus Barleywine (315)
  • Favorite candy (calorie count): Twizzlers (140)

#6 – Arkansas

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  • 2015 obesity prevalence: 34.50 percent prevalent
  • 1995 obesity prevalence: 17.00 percent prevalent
  • Difference over 20 years: 102.94 percent increase
  • Favorite beer (calorie count): Diamond Bear Pale Ale (186)
  • Favorite candy (calorie count): Skittles (250)

#5 – Kentucky

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  • 2015 obesity prevalence: 34.60 percent prevalent
  • 1995 obesity prevalence: 16.60 percent prevalent
  • Difference over 20 years: 108.43 percent increase
  • Favorite beer (calorie count): Bo & Luke (300)
  • Favorite candy (calorie count): Whoppers (190)

#2 – West Virginia (tie)

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  • 2015 obesity prevalence: 35.60 percent prevalent
  • 1995 obesity prevalence: 17.70 percent prevalent
  • Difference over 20 years: 101.13 percent increase
  • Favorite beer (calorie count): Magic Hat #9 (153)
  • Favorite candy (calorie count): Oreos (160)

#2 – Mississippi (tie)

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  • 2015 obesity prevalence: 35.60 percent prevalent
  • 1995 obesity prevalence: 19.40 percent prevalent
  • Difference over 20 years: 83.51 percent increase
  • Favorite beer (calorie count): Abita Select Amber (135)
  • Favorite candy (calorie count): Hershey’s Kisses (22)

#2 – Alabama (tie)

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  • 2015 obesity prevalence: 35.60 percent prevalent
  • 1995 obesity prevalence: 15.70 percent prevalent
  • Difference over 20 years: 126.75 percent increase
  • Favorite beer (calorie count): Bud Light (145)
  • Favorite candy (calorie count): AirHeads (60)

#1 – Louisiana

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  • 2015 obesity prevalence: 36.20 percent prevalent
  • 1995 obesity prevalence: 17 percent prevalent
  • Difference over 20 years: 112.94 percent increase
  • Favorite beer (calorie count): Ghost In The Machine Imperial IPA (255)
  • Favorite candy (calorie count): Swedish Fish (160)

As you can see, Louisiana is the most obese state in the country at 36.20 percent, while West Virginia, Mississippi, and Alabama all tie for second place at 35.60 percent. Since this isn’t a competition they would want to win, let’s hope that over the next few years we can watch their numbers decline.

Potential Health Risks

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Though there’s no way to be sure whether an overweight or obese person will have health problems, it is far more likely. Some of the common health risks associated with being overweight or obese include:

  • Type II diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Specific types of cancer (breast, colon, kidney, and endometrial)
  • Stroke

Along with weight, a person’s age and ethnicity also have the potential to impact the likelihood of having specific health problems.

If you’re curious whether you classify as overweight or obese, calculating your BMI — which you can do here — is a good place to start.

Seeing where you fall might be a necessary nudge toward a healthier lifestyle, which could prevent the potential health problems, decrease your medical costs, and lower your insurance premiums.

Where Our Study Fails

According to Stateofobesity.org, “A change in methodology makes direct comparisons to data collected prior to 2011 difficult” for adult obesity data.

Additionally, we recognize that underweight applicants can also be charged higher insurance premiums. However, our article’s goal is to highlight the medical and insurance costs associated with obese insurance applicants.

Complete Rankings: Obesity Prevalence

– To sort the table by category, click on header columns.

– Click here for the full stats and sources for each category. For all media inquiries, please email: Josh Barnes



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