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In Gallup Poll, West Virginia Outweighs Mississippi in Obesity

March 10, 2011 -- In a new Gallup-Healthways poll, West Virginia outweighs Mississippi as the most obese state.

The poll finds that 33.5% of West Virginians -- one in three state residents -- are obese.

Colorado was the least obese state, but Coloradans can't take too much pride in the honor. One in five Colorado residents is obese.

Overall, the Gallup poll finds that 26.6% of American adults were obese in 2010. That's about the same as the 26.5% found to be obese in 2009.

The poll is based on telephone interviews with a random sample of 352,840 adults living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The sampling error is plus or minus 1% or 2% for most states, but is as high as plus or minus 4% for smaller-population states.

The poll calculates obesity based on self-reported height and weight. People tend to say they are taller and lighter than they actually are.

That may be why the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) -- which actually measures people's height and weight -- gets even higher obesity rates. For 2007-2008, the most recent data set, NHANES found that 33.8% of Americans are obese.

However, the Gallup data closely track the CDC's Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) obesity data.

Not surprisingly, the Gallup poll shows that the states with the highest diabetes rates also had the highest obesity rates.

According to the Gallup poll, the 11 states with the highest obesity rates in 2010 are:

  • West Virginia, 33.5% obese
  • Mississippi, 33.0% obese
  • Kentucky, 32.0% obese
  • South Carolina, 30.3% obese
  • Louisiana, 30.3% obese
  • Arkansas, 30.3% obese
  • Oklahoma, 29.8% obese
  • Alabama, 29.2% obese
  • South Dakota, 29.1% obese
  • Tennessee, 28.9% obese
  • Ohio, 28.9% obese

The Gallup poll's 10 least obese states are:

  • Colorado, 20.0% obese
  • Hawaii, 20.4% obese
  • Utah, 21.9% obese
  • Massachusetts, 22.5% obese
  • California, 22.6% obese
  • New Mexico, 22.9% obese
  • Connecticut, 23.2% obese
  • Montana, 23.3% obese
  • Rhode Island, 23.5% obese
  • Vermont, 23.9% obese

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