If we live in a fast food nation, Kentucky is a fast-food capital. There are more Applebee’s, Arby’s, Dairy Queen, McDonald’s, and Papa John’s restaurants in Louisville per 100,000 residents than in any other city. At 30.4%, Kentucky ranks 10th for adult obesity. The findings come from the CDC's annual self-report health survey, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System or BRFSS. Find out if your state ranks among the fattest and fittest states in America.
10. Fat: Texas (tie)
Everything's bigger in Texas, they say. The second-biggest state in the country is also one of the heftiest, with an obesity rate of 30.4%. Texas and Kentucky just edged out Missouri, where 30.3% of residents are obese.
8. Fat: South Carolina (tie)
South Carolina's obesity rate is 30.8%. Obesity was in the news in 2009 when a South Carolina mother was arrested because her 14-year-old son weighed 555 pounds. That year, the state ranked third for the highest percentage of obese high school students. Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher, a measure that uses a person’s height and weight. The state is promoting better nutrition and physical activity in the schools.
8. Fat: Indiana (tie)
The Hoosier state has struggled with its weight and is trying to promote healthier habits. With an obesity rate of 30.8%, there's a statewide initiative to get people to exercise more and eat better. Most adults should get 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. Obesity raises the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some types of cancer.
7. Fat: Arkansas
The obesity epidemic is nationwide, but the problem is greatest in the South and among blacks and Latinos. Arkansas was the first state to pass a law to address obesity. Parents receive annual reports on their children's BMI, along with nutrition and activity tips. Yet Arkansas still ranks 7th overall with adult obesity at 30.9%.
6. Fat: Oklahoma
Every state has seen a steady rise in obesity in the past 15 years, but Oklahoma’s increase was the greatest -- from 12.9% to 31.1%. Blame unhealthy habits. The state ranks lowest in fruit and vegetable consumption and among the highest for inactive lifestyles. Schools now restrict sugary drinks and snacks, and the state supports a farm-to-school program to provide more fresh produce.
5. Fat: Michigan
We’re paying a high price for obesity. Michigan, the fifth most obese state, expects to spend $12.5 billion on obesity-related health costs in 2018, if obesity rates keep climbing. Like other states, Michigan is trying to encourage both adults and kids to be more active and to eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Michigan's obesity rate is 31.3%.
4. Fat: Alabama
Southern cooking is famous for its sizzle: fried chicken, fried okra, fried apple pie. This high-fat diet is a likely factor in Alabama's obesity rate of 32%. Eating fatty foods and sugary drinks takes a toll on children’s health, too. Alabama has the nation’s highest rate of obesity among high school students.
3. Fat: West Virginia
West Virginians need to get moving. They rank third for obesity, at 32.4%, and they're No. 2 for being couch potatoes. More than three in 10 West Virginians are physically inactive. West Virginians on the Move, a nonprofit organization, is trying to get people to be more active through programs in senior centers, school grants, and community walks.
2. Fat: Louisiana
Perhaps the Big Easy could learn something from the Biggest Loser. Louisiana remains among the Top 10 fattest states with obesity at 33.4% for adults. The state wants Louisiana children to spend more time being active and less time in front of the TV, computer, and video games. To combat health issues early, many doctors recommend that children first be screened for high cholesterol between the ages of 9 and 11.
1. Fat: Mississippi
No place tips the scales more than Mississippi. The Magnolia State has an obesity rate of 34.9%. Not surprisingly, Mississippi has some other unhealthy top rankings, too. Four out of 10 Mississippi high school students drink at least one sugary soda a day, and the state’s adults were most likely to be physically inactive. Back in 1995, Mississippi also ranked No. 1 for obesity -- but its rate then was just 19.4%.
10. Fit: California
California girls aren’t the only ones with a healthy glow. According to the CDC, California adults are among the nation’s most active. Just a brisk, 30-minute walk most days can lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes. The fittest states are based on the CDC's Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System which tracks, among other things, how often people say they're physically active.
9. Fit: District of Columbia (tie)
Washington, D.C., is one of the nation’s most walkable cities. But you don’t have to stay in a concrete jungle, walking between office towers. Almost everyone in D.C. lives within a half-mile of a park. The city’s obesity ranking is also among the nation’s lowest.
9. Fit: Idaho (tie)
Idaho grows real potatoes, not couch potatoes. Only about one in five Idahoans is inactive. A haven for people who love the outdoors, this state is home to the nation’s first ski resort and deepest river gorge.
8. Fit: New Hampshire
New Hampshire has been called "the Switzerland of America." The White Mountains attract skiers in the winter and hikers in the summer. The outdoor lifestyle keeps people more active -- and more fit.
7. Fit: Hawaii
With weather that’s often breezy, warm, and sunny, why would you want to stay inside watching television? Hawaiians aren’t just active. They’re healthy. This state has the nation’s longest life expectancy.
6. Fit: Minnesota
The Land of 10,000 Lakes is also one of the fittest states. Exercise pays off. Minnesota also has among the lowest levels of diabetes and is considered to be one of the healthiest states overall.
5. Fit: Washington
Washington is the nation’s most bike-friendly state, according to the League of American Bicyclists. It’s also a good place to walk, jog, ski, or enjoy other sports. Almost half of Washington’s adults are very active.
4. Fit: Colorado
Colorado is one of the fittest places in the country, and it has the nation’s lowest rate of obesity, at 20.7%. Sure, its mountains and rivers attract outdoorsy types. But Colorado also has places to play close to home. About two-thirds of children and teens have parks, community centers, and sidewalks in their neighborhoods.
2. Fit: Utah (tie)
Utah, home of the 2002 Olympic Games, is known for its mountain resorts and adventure sports. About half of Utah’s adults are highly active, according to the CDC.
2. Fit: Vermont (tie)
Vermont’s children and adults are some of the most active in the nation. They are also more likely than most to eat their fruits and vegetables. In fact, Vermont was named the healthiest state in the nation in the 2011 America’s Health Rankings, which is sponsored by the United Health Foundation.
1. Fittest: Oregon
The West is the fittest region in the country, and Oregon is a prime example. With coast and mountains, lush forests and sand-swept deserts, the state’s varied terrain beckons sports enthusiasts. Outdoor Life magazine named Bend, Ore., the No. 1 town for sportsmen.
1) Jeff Greenberg
2) Beate Muenter / F1online
3) Anthony Masterson/Photodisc
4) Danita Delimont / Gallo Images
5) Stephen St. John/National Geographic
7) Digital Vision, Stockbyte
8) Eiichi Onodera
9) Alan Abramowitz/Workbook Stock
10) Erin Slonaker/Flickr
11) Ben Fink Photo Inc./FoodPix
12) Noah Clayton / The Image Bank
13) Tom Williams/Roll Call
14) Caroline Woodham/Digital Vision
15) Bob Kramer / Photolibrary
16) Michale Melford / Stone
17) YinYang / Vetta
18) Scott Markewitz / Photographer’s Choice
19) Sergio Ballivian
20) Erik Isakson/Tetra Images
21) Girl Ray/Photographer’s Choice
22) Ian Cumming/Axiom Photographic Agency
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American Academy of Pediatrics: "Physicians Recommend All Children, 9-11, Be Screened for Cholesterol."
Arkansas Center for Health Improvement: "BMI Initiative."
Arkansas Coalition for Obesity Prevention.
CDC: "Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System: Diabetes, 2010," "Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System: Exercise," "Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System: Fruits and Vegetables, 2009," "Children’s Food Environment State Indicator Report, 2011," "Obese Youth Over Time," "Overweight and Obesity South Carolina," "Overweight and Obesity," "Physical Activity and Health," "Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System," "State Indicator Report on Physical Activity, 2010."
Fitness.gov: "Physical Activity Facts."
Hawaii Department of Economic Develoipment & Tourism: "Quality of Life."
Indiana State Department of Health, Burden of Obesity in Indiana, 2011.
League of American Bicyclists: "Washington BFS Report Card."
Michigan Department of Community Health: "Overweight and Obesity in Michigan: Surveillance Update 2011."
News release, Trust for America’s Health.
News release, Walk Score.
Nola.com: "Louisiana Child-Obesity Reduction Sought."
Oklahoma State Department of Health: "Fruits and Veggies: More Matters," "Physical Activity in Oklahoma."
Outdoor Life Magazine: "Best Towns 2011."
Positively Minnesota: "Explore Minnesota Living."
Texas Almanac: "Environment."
The Daily Beast: "Fast Food Capitals: Ranking the Top Cities for Chain Restaurants."
Trust for America’s Health: "Issue Brief: Analysis of Obesity Rates by State."
U.S. News & World Report: "Retirement Spots With Year-Round Pleasant Weather."
USA Today: "S.C. case looks on child obesity as child abuse. But is it?" July 23, 2009.
Utah Travel Industry: "Welcome to Utah."
VisitIdaho.org: "Idaho Trivia."
VisitNH: "State Facts."
West Virginia on the Move: "Programs."
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