Mississippi Tops the Nation in Obesity Rate

At 34.9 percent, Mississippi has the highest rate of obesity in the United States, followed by Louisiana (33.4 percent), West Virginia (32.4 percent), and Alabama (32 percent), an analysis conducted by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation finds.

Based on data collected by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the study found that twenty-six of the thirty states with the highest obesity rates are in the Midwest and South, and that twelve states have an adult obesity rate above 30 percent. According to a different study, obesity-related medical costs totaled $147 billion, or nearly 10 percent of total spending on medical conditions, in 2006, with much of that used to treat preventable chronic diseases such as diabetes.

Later this summer, TFAH and RWJF will release their annual F as in Fat report, which examines obesity rates by state as well as policy efforts to address the obesity epidemic in the U.S. For the first time, this year's report will include a study that forecasts 2030 obesity rates in each state and the likely increase in obesity-related disease rates and the associated healthcare costs.

"Obesity has contributed to a stunning rise in chronic disease rates and healthcare costs. It is one of the biggest health crises the country has ever faced," said TFAH executive director Jeffrey Levi. "The good news is that we have a growing body of evidence and approaches that we know can help reduce obesity, improve nutrition, and increase physical activity based on making healthier choices easier for Americans. The bad news is we're not investing anywhere near what we need to in order to bend the obesity curve and see the returns in terms of health and savings."

"Mississippi Has Highest Obesity Rate in the Nation." Trust for America's Health Press Release 08/13/2012.