We’ve got good news and bad news. While obesity rates aren’t rising (that’s the good news), they’re still holding steady throughout the country. Nothing illustrates this more than the map above, recently released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
See all those colors? That indicates that in 2014, not a single state had an obesity rate of less than 20 percent. In fact, 19 states had a population with a 30–35 percent prevalence of obesity (that’s all the orange you see). Plus, the three states highlighted in red (Arkansas, Mississippi, West Virginia) had obesity rates of 35 percent or greater. According to CNN, two of those states, Mississippi and Virginia, were the first states to ever report more than 35 percent of the population as obese, back in 2013 — and now they have some company.
Overall, the Midwest has the greatest prevalence of obesity, with the South coming in a close second. Even more concerning: These statistics were gathered using self-reported data (participants gave their height and weight over the phone). And if you’ve ever fibbed about your weight (who hasn’t), you know that means these results might be low-balling the actual obesity rates throughout the country.
Why U.S. Obesity Rates Are So Scary
So why should you care? Obesity can lead to conditions such as heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Plus, it’s pretty darn expensive, too. The estimated yearly medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion in 2008, according to the CDC.
If you’re feeling inspired to clean up your eating habits, check out these resources that will make it easy to skip the processed fare in favor of fresh produce and lean protein.