Yes, you do look fat in that dress, Mississippi. A new study analyzing data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds that Mississippi has the highest rate of obesity in the nation. But even with 34.9 percent of its residents clocking in as obese, The Hospitality State is hardly alone. Twelve states report more than 30 percent of their population as overweight.
"Obesity has contributed to a stunning rise in chronic disease rates and health care costs. It is one of the biggest health crises the country has ever faced," said Jeffrey Levi, Ph.D, executive director of the Trust for America's Health (TFAH), whose group conducted the study with the the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). The results were compiled using data from the CDC's 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey.
"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," Levi said.
According to the study, Colorado is the slimmest state, with 20.7 percent of its residents falling into the obese category.
Of course, you could view those statistics through different lenses. For example, is it really that significant that the most polarized states for obesity have only a 14 percent difference? But again, that could be interpreted differently by different people. After all, if one-fifth of the citizens in the nation's slimmest state are obese, maybe our efforts at improving the nation's health will involve more heavy lifting that previously thought.
The list of obesity rates in the U.S., in descending order from most obese to least:
West Virginia (32.4%)
Indiana (30.8%) and South Carolina (30.8%)
Kentucky (30.4%) and Texas (30.4%)
Kansas (29.6%) and Ohio (29.6%)
Tennessee (29.2%) and Virginia (29.2%)
North Carolina (29.1%)
South Dakota (28.1%)
Maine (27.8%) and North Dakota (27.8%)
New Mexico (26.3%)
New Hampshire (26.2%)
Rhode Island (25.4%) and Vermont (25.4%)
Connecticut (24.5%), Nevada (24.5%) and New York (24.5%)
District of Columbia (23.7%) and New Jersey (23.7%)