A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

South remains most obese part of U.S.,
annual report says; Kentucky ranked 12th

To view an interactive version of this map, click here.

To view an interactive version of this map, click here.


The South remains the fattest part of the country, according to the 12th annual State of Obesity report released this week by Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Arkansas leads the way with an adult obesity rate of 35.9 percent. West Virginia is second, at 35.7 percent, followed by Mississippi, 35.5 percent; Louisiana, 34.9 percent and Alabama, 33.5 percent.

Kentucky, with a 31.6 percent obesity rate, made the list at No. 12.

“Seven of the 10 states with the highest rates are in the South, and 23 of the 25 states with the highest rates of obesity are in the South and Midwest,” Daniel Enoch reports for Agri-Pulse. “Nine of the 10 states with the highest rates of diabetes are in the South. Diabetes rates increased in eight states— Colorado, Hawaii, Kansas, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Ohio and Pennsylvania.”

No state had an obesity rate above 15 percent in 1980, and no state had a rate above 20 percent in 1991, Enoch writes. “Now, nationally, more than 30 percent of adults, nearly 17 percent of 2- to 19-year-olds and more than 8 percent of children ages 2 to 5 are obese. Obesity, the report notes, puts some 78 million Americans at an increased risk for a range of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer,” Enoch writes. “It is also one of the biggest drives of health care costs.”

Meanwhile, Colorado has the lowest rate, at 21.3 percent.

From Rural Blog,a digest of events, trends, issues, ideas and journalism from and about rural America, from the IRJCI, based at the University of Kentucky. The Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues is an extension program for rural journalists and news outlets. It takes no positions on issues and advocates only for strong news coverage, responsible commentary and things that make them possible, such as open-government laws. For more information see www.RuralJournalism.org.

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