• 08.15.12

Mapping The U.S. Obesity Crisis

While the American people continue their long binge-eat toward total obesity, new data suggests there may be a cure to stop children from developing the habits that turn them into fat adults.

It’s no secret that the U.S. is dealing with an obesity crisis. It’s only getting worse: between 2000 and 2008, pre-diabetes and diabetes rates in teens jumped from 8% to 23%. But in order to combat obesity, researchers need to know where the situation is most dire. An analysis from Trust for America’s Health breaks it down.


The states with the highest obesity rates, in order from most obese to least: Mississippi, Louisiana, West Virginia, Alabama, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Indiana and South Carolina (tied), and Kentucky and Texas (tied). In Mississippi, the most obese state, a staggering 34.9% of the population is obese. In Kentucky and Texas, 30.4% of the population is obese.

Even the states with the lowest obesity rates still have a problem. The top 10 least obese states: Colorado, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Washington DC and New Jersey (tie), California, Utah, and Connecticut, Nevada, and New York (three-way tie). Colorado, the fittest state, still has a 20.7% obesity rate.

There is no silver bullet to fixing this problem. But here’s an idea that might just help stop the problem where it starts: with bad childhood eating habits.

A study published earlier this month reports that teens living in states with strict laws about snack and soda sales in public schools gained less weight–on average 2.25 pounds fewer for a five foot person–over three years than teens living in states without those laws, according to the New York Times.

Some people might argue that the Big Brother-like steps that have been taken recently–like New York City’s ban on oversized soft drinks–will do little more than send sugar-lovers searching for other quick fixes. That may be true. But focusing in on kids and teens could curb junk food cravings before they get to the point where quick fixes are necessary.

About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more.