Obesity Rate by State

Each year, CNN releases its “Weight of the Union” – a ranking of each of the 50 states by obesity rate. The analysis is based the Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System which is a state based system of health surveys established by the CDC in 1984 and is the largest ongoing telephone health survey in the world, tallying 400,000 adult interviews each year. Admittedly, their analysis has the validity concerns associated with self-reported data.

Based on the popularity of our Re-Ranking CNN’s Fittest Cities Blog, we decided to re-rank the fittest states using objectively measured data on the employed population. We took height measurement in inches and weight measurements in pounds from a few hundred thousand employees in the U.S. and calculated each person’s BMI.

Obesity is defined as a BMI of 30 or higher. So, we arranged the data by state and calculated the obesity percentage. We also included the average BMI by state for good measure.

The interactive map above provides a graphic of the fittest states with the darker shaded states having the highest obesity percentage. The sortable table below shows the rankings, obesity percentage and our calculated average BMI by state.

Adult Obesity Rate by State:

OHD
Rank
OHD
Obesity %
CNN
Rank
CNN
Obesity %
State
1 57.59% 2 35.70% West Virginia
2 57.14% 3 35.50% Mississippi
3 50.77% 5 33.50% Alabama
4 50.18% 1 35.90% Arkansas
5 46.77% 12 31.60% Kentucky
6 46.15% 23 29.80% South Dakota
7 45.68% 20 30.20% Missouri
8 44.50% 10 32.10% South Carolina
9 44.44% 33 28.20% Maine
10 43.84% 16 30.90% Iowa
11 43.58% 4 34.90% Louisiana
12 43.51% 19 30.50% Georgia
13 43.33% 25 29.70% North Carolina
14 42.99% 7 32.70% Indiana
15 42.72% 29 28.90% Arizona
16 42.57% 27 29.50% Wyoming
17 42.50% 17 30.70% Delaware
18 42.11% 31 28.50% Virginia
19 41.01% 21 30.20% Nebraska
20 40.82% 49 22.10% Hawaii
21 40.66% 22 30.20% Pennsylvania
22 40.40% 26 29.60% Maryland
23 40.12% 15 31.20% Wisconsin
24 39.95% 38 27.30% Washington
25 39.90% 18 30.70% Michigan
26 39.85% 8 32.60% Ohio
27 39.19% 28 29.30% Illinois
28 38.95% 14 31.20% Tennessee
29 38.90% 11 31.90% Texas
30 38.20% 44 26.20% Florida
31 38.05% 32 28.40% New Mexico
32 37.94% 6 33.00% Oklahoma
33 37.77% 13 31.30% Kansas
34 36.96% 36 27.60% Minnesota
35 36.21% 30 28.90% Idaho
36 35.45% 50 21.70% D.C.
37 34.87% 43 26.30% Connecticut
38 34.80% 42 26.40% Montanna
39 34.48% 9 32.2% North Dakota
40 32.58% 41 26.90% New Jersey
41 32.55% 39 27.00% New York
42 31.55% 45 25.70% Utah
43 30.65% 48 23.30% Massachusetts
44 30.37% 34 27.90% Oregon
45 29.53% 47 24.70% California
46 28.95% 35 27.70% Nevada
47 28.85% 40 27.00% Road Island
48 28.34% 24 29.70% Alaska
49 26.13% 46 24.80% Vermont
50 25.56% 51 21.30% Colorado
51 21.28% 37 27.40% New Hampshire

Self-reported information is a minefield that should be avoided and can provide the wrong direction for priorities and resources. In addition, those employers that are going to or already in an outcome based incentive program need to be very careful about using any self-reported information for baselines or measurements. Read our blog article to find out more about why self-reported data cannot be trusted.

Learn more how Onsite Health Diagnostics can help employers be safe, but effective in moving towards an outcomes based paradigm.