The fresh food movement. Fitbits. Yoga pants. Despite healthy trends everywhere you turn, our country continues to get more obese. Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index reports 27.7% of the U.S. population was obese in 2014, up from 27.1% the year before.
The survey asks more than 175,000 people across all 50 states to report his or her height and weight. Then, a Body Mass Index score is calculated. The survey considers anyone with a BMI more than 30 obese. That’s the same measure used by the Journals of the American Medical Association which found more than one-third of U.S. adults are obese.
What does a BMI of 30 look like? It depends on the person. But, using the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s BMI calculator a man six feet tall and weighing 225 pounds would have a BMI of 30.5. A woman five-and-a-half feet tall and weighing 180 pounds would have a BMI of 30.
When a person is obese it means he or she has too much body fat. Obesity can contribute to heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain kinds of cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC also reports people who are obese pay $1,429 more for medical costs than people of normal weight.
The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index showed obesity rates are highest in Southern and Midwestern states and lowest in Western and Northeastern states.
Hawaii has the lowest obesity rate in the country, according to the survey. Fewer than one in five people who live here are obese. California, Colorado, Connecticut and Massachusetts follow with low obesity rates.
Mississippi ranks as having the highest rate of obesity with 35.2%. West Virginia, Louisiana, Arkansas and Kentucky also rank at the bottom of the list.
These findings are similar to what the CDC found when it analyzed data in 2013. It found Mississippi and West Virginia were in the worst shape. Hawaii, California, Montana, Utah, Colorado, Vermont and Massachusetts ranked in the best shape.
Beyond the state rankings, the recent survey by Gallup-Healthways also ranked 100 communities for obesity. The communities with the lowest levels of obesity were:
- Colorado Springs
- San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.
- Provo-Orem, Utah
- Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Conn.
- Urban Honolulu, HI
- Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Mass.-New Hampshire
- North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida
- Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, Florida
- San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward
Others in the top 25 include Albuquerque, Austin, Portland, Nashville, and Arlington, Virginia.
The community at the bottom of the list? Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
The results of both the CDC and Gallup-Healthways studies align somewhat with another report from MapMyFitness. The Wall Street Journal released data from 22 million users of the fitness mapping program to show which states exercised the most in 2014.
California, Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Arizona topped the list for exercising the longest using the mapping program. Washington, D.C., North Dakota, Delaware, South Carolina and Hawaii ranked at the bottom of the list.
Hawaii was the biggest difference in the various studies. While its population isn’t using a fitness mapping program to exercise, it is managing to stay healthier than much of the country.