Most Obese and Overweight States in the US


obese states in the US

Obesity continues to affect every state within the US, and despite our best attempts to tackle the issue, over 32 percent of men and 34 percent of women are considered obese by BMI (Body Mass Index) standards. And although we have several means of collecting the data — to include the Center of Disease Control (CDC) Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) — rarely does the data point us to one, singular causation.

However, there are several health tools that can be used to examine the issue, and some, like the Prevalence and Trends Data tool (as we’ve used below), can be used to effectively visualize and analyze adult obesity for any state and/or territory in the United States.

By understanding obesity, federal agencies, non-profits, and other organizations can forecast future trends, identify socioeconomic needs, reevaluate programs and tax policies, prioritize financial assistance, and effectively measure programs that have a direct effect on overall health.

Use the data and interactive tool(s) below to explore the most obese states in the U.S. Compare the rates below, see why some states are higher than others, and understand the difference between obesity in men and women. Pair the data with other interactive demographic and social tools to explore the issue further.

Most Obese States (All States, DC, and Territories)

Rank State Obese (BMI 30.0 – 99.8) Overweight (BMI 25.0-29.9) Normal Weight (BMI 18.5-24.9) Underweight (BMI 12.0-18.4)
1 West Virginia 40.7 % 32.1 25.6 1.6
2 Alabama 40.4 % 31.0 26.9 1.8
3 Kentucky 40.3 31.3 25.9 2.5
4 Oklahoma 39.6 32.1 26.4 1.9
5 Mississippi 39.2 33.1 25.8 1.9
6 Arkansas 38.9 31.3 27.9 1.9
7 South Dakota 38.6 33.2 27.0 1.2
8 Louisiana 38.5 32.1 27.4 2.0
9 Ohio 37.5 32.9 28.1 1.5
10 Missouri 37.4 31.3 29.9 1.4
11 Iowa 36.3 33.9 28.1 1.7
12 Indiana 36.2 32.9 29.1 1.8
13 Kansas 36.1 34.0 28.4 1.5
14 South Carolina 36.0 34.1 28.0 1.9
15 North Carolina 35.9 32.3 30.4 1.4
16 Texas 35.9 33.5 28.7 1.9
17 Puerto Rico 35.8 35.9 26.7 1.6
18 Nebraska 35.7 34.7 28.1 1.5
19 New Mexico 35.1 34.9 28.0 2.0
20 North Dakota 35.1 34.6 28.5 1.9
21 Tennessee 35.1 35.8 26.8 2.2
22 Virgin Islands 35.1 29.8 32.0 *
23 Michigan 34.2 33.5 30.0 2.3
24 Maryland 34.1 33.5 30.8 1.6
25 Illinois 33.9 33.8 30.6 1.7
26 Georgia 33.8 33.8 30.4 2
27 Virginia 33.8 33.5 30.6 2.1
28 Delaware 33.5 33.9 30.6 2.1
29 Alaska 33.4 34.1 31.2 1.3
30 Wisconsin 33.3 34.1 30.7 2.0
31 Pennsylvania 32.9 31.9 33.8 1.3
32 Guam 32.4 31.8 33.5 2.4
33 Minnesota 32.2 34.3 31.9 1.7
34 Wyoming 32.2 36.9 29.5 1.5
35 Maine 31.8 32.8 33.4 2.1
36 Idaho 31.7 35.6 31.1 1.7
37 Montana 31.6 34.4 32.2 1.8
38 Nevada 31.5 35.4 31.1 2.0
39 Arizona 31.4 36.3 30.1 2.2
40 Utah 31.1 33.4 33.5 2.0
41 Oregon 30.6 34.0 33.5 1.9
42 New Hampshire 30.5 34.4 32.5 2.6
43 Connecticut 30.3 34.5 32.2 3.0
44 Rhode Island 30.3 35.3 32.5 1.9
45 New York 28.8 34.1 34.7 2.4
46 Vermont 28.8 31.1 37.4 2.6
47 Washington 28.7 34.9 34.6 1.8
48 New Jersey 28.0 36.4 33.8 1.7
49 California 27.6 36.0 34.1 2.2
50 Massachusetts 27.0 33.0 37.7 2.3
51 Hawaii 25.9 34.8 37.0 2.3
52 District of Co 25.1 30.9 42.6 1.4
53 Colorado 25.0 35.1 37.5 2.3
Average 33.5 33.7 30.9 1.9
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Population Health. BRFSS Prevalence & Trends Data [online] [accessed Jan 19, 2023]. Note: Data Unavailable for Florida

Obesity by State Facts

  • Obesity is a national epidemic which causes a low quality of life, mental health issues, and higher medical costs.
  • If your BMI is greater or equal to 30 then you are considered obese.
  • Because obese individuals incur higher medical costs, obesity places a significant financial burden on the US medical care system.
  • Non-Hispanic black women and Hispanics have the highest rate of obesity.
  • The top 5 most obese states include West Virginia, Alabama, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Mississippi (but keep in mind there is a margin of error).
  • Medical complication of obesity include sleep apnea, lung disease, liver disease, gallstones, cancer, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, pancreatitis, abnormal periods, infertility, arthritis, inflamed veins (sometimes with blood clots), and gout.
  • While obesity is directly caused by eating too much and a lack of physical activity, there are multiple factors that affect obesity. Those factors include: (1) societal and community changes, (2) lack of access to inexpensive, healthy food, (3) food deserts, (4) too much sugar in our diets, (5) difference in regional diets, (6) frequent advertising and consumption of foods that are high in sugar, fat, and salt, (7) lack of parks or recreational facilities nearby, (8) car dependency instead of walking, and (9) lack of physical education in schools.

Most Obese States by Gender

Location Male Obesity (Percent) Female Obesity (Percent)
Alabama 38 41.6
Alaska 32.3 34.9
Arizona 31.1 31.6
Arkansas 38.7 38.6
California 26.5 28.7
Colorado 24.5 25.8
Connecticut 30.1 30.7
Delaware 31.7 36.1
District of Columbia 20.7 28.6
Georgia 32 35.8
Hawaii 28.4 21.4
Idaho 31.4 31.8
Illinois 33.6 34.7
Indiana 34.4 38.2
Iowa 36.3 36.5
Kansas 35.5 36.6
Kentucky 39.8 40.9
Louisiana 36 41.2
Maine 31.6 32.2
Maryland 33.3 35.4
Massachusetts 27.7 27
Michigan 33.9 34.9
Minnesota 33.6 31.1
Mississippi 36.7 41.4
Missouri 37.8 36.6
Montana 31.7 31.9
Nebraska 36.8 35
Nevada 33.1 29.4
New Hampshire 33.3 27.8
New Jersey 28.8 27.5
New Mexico 33.5 35.6
New York 28.4 29.8
North Carolina 34.1 37.9
North Dakota 37.1 33.1
Ohio 36.4 39.1
Oklahoma 39.8 39
Oregon 29.7 31.1
Pennsylvania 34 32.6
Rhode Island 30.9 29.2
South Carolina 33.8 38.3
South Dakota 39.7 37
Tennessee 32.8 37.1
Texas 35.6 36.6
Utah 30.5 31.4
Vermont 29 29
Virginia 33.6 34.9
Washington 28.3 29.3
West Virginia 39.4 41.8
Wisconsin 33.3 34.5
Wyoming 32.4 31.5
Guam 36 30.7
Puerto Rico 34.3 37.5
Virgin Islands 25.7 44.5
Average Obesity 32.97 (men) 34.06 (women)
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Population Health. BRFSS Prevalence & Trends Data [online] [accessed Jan 19, 2023]. Note: Data Unavailable for Florida

What Can be Done to Tackle Obesity?

  • Individuals, states, and the U.S. government can promote healthier eating.
  • Individuals can replace sugary drinks with water.
  • Individuals can limit screen time and replace it with physical activity.
  • Individuals, states, and the U.S. government can promote change within communities through community initiatives.
  • Individuals can work with local, state, and federal initiatives to reduce obesity.
  • Individuals, states, and the U.S. government can create additional recreational opportunities.
  • Communities can advocate for quality physical education.
  • Communities can support local, healthy food initiatives and reduce healthy food barriers.
  • Individuals, states, and the U.S. government can reduce car dependency and promote/build infrastructure that supports cyclist and walkers.
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