This Is Where Iowa Ranks Among the Most Obese States in America

The obesity epidemic in the U.S. is a major health issue, and it’s getting worse. The current national adult obesity rate is 29.7%, but almost half of adults are projected to be obese, not just overweight, by 2030, according to Harvard researchers estimates published in December 2019 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

While the country as a whole is facing an obesity crisis, the problem is much more pronounced in some states.

Iowa is the state with the eighth highest adult obesity rate in the U.S. About 34.3% of adult residents report a body mass index of 30 or greater. High obesity rates can detrimentally affect health.

About 13.5% of adults in Iowa report being in poor or fair health, the sixth lowest share in the U.S. Nationwide, 17.0% of adults report subpar health.

Obesity is a leading risk factor for Type 2 diabetes, and 9.9% of Iowa residents over the age of 20 have diabetes, the 21st lowest share of all states. The diabetes prevalence across the country among the same age group is 10.5%

There are a multitude of social and economic factors that predispose certain populations to higher obesity rates. People with lower incomes are less able to afford proper medical care and healthy lifestyles, which include eating a healthy diet and having easy access to gyms and other options for physical activity.

The median household income in Iowa is $61,691 a year, the 21st lowest in the U.S. and $4,021 less than the median across the country of $65,712 a year.

Insufficient sleep, defined as sleeping less than seven hours per night on average, has been shown to be a contributing factor to obesity. Sleep deprivation interferes with the two hormones that control appetite. Lack of sleep can lead to increased levels of ghrelin (increased appetite) and decreased levels of leptin (diminished feeling of fullness), possibly leading to weight gain.

About 33.1% of adults in Iowa report not getting enough sleep, the 13th lowest share in the U.S. and compared to 35.2% of U.S. adults.

Health experts have pointed to several lifestyle factors that are likely contributing to the excess weight problem among Americans, including a sedentary lifestyle. The physical inactivity rate in Iowa is 22.6%, the 25th lowest in the U.S. Nationwide, 22.7% of adults don’t exercise on a regular basis.

To identify the most obese states, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed health data from the 2021 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute joint program. These are the most obese states in America

StateAdult obesity ratePop. Over 20 with diabetesAdults in poor or fair healthAdults who don’t exercise regularlyMedian household income a yearMississippi39.1%14.6%22.1%30.4%45,792West Virginia37.8%15.1%23.6%28.0%48,850Louisiana36.3%13.0%21.4%28.0%51,073Alabama36.1%14.5%21.4%29.3%51,734Arkansas35.0%13.5%23.3%30.4%48,952Kentucky34.6%12.7%21.8%28.7%52,295Oklahoma34.5%12.3%20.9%27.8%54,449Iowa34.3%9.9%13.5%22.6%61,691South Carolina34.0%13.3%17.8%26.0%56,227Indiana33.9%12.1%18.2%26.7%57,603North Dakota33.9%9.4%13.6%23.1%64,577Ohio33.5%12.2%17.8%26.1%58,642Nebraska33.4%10.0%13.8%22.7%63,229Tennessee33.3%12.5%21.2%27.2%56,071Kansas33.0%10.5%16.3%23.9%62,087Missouri32.5%11.4%19.5%25.5%57,409Michigan32.4%11.0%18.3%23.1%59,584Delaware32.4%11.8%16.3%27.3%70,176South Dakota32.4%10.1%13.4%22.0%59,533North Carolina32.3%11.5%18.0%23.3%57,341Georgia32.3%12.0%18.4%26.4%61,980Alaska31.9%8.3%15.6%19.3%75,463Wisconsin31.7%9.5%14.8%20.3%64,168Maryland31.6%11.1%15.2%21.9%86,738Texas31.4%10.2%18.7%23.2%64,034Pennsylvania30.8%11.0%17.6%22.0%63,463Virginia30.5%10.7%16.6%22.2%76,456Maine29.8%10.4%17.1%20.8%58,924Illinois29.7%9.9%15.9%21.6%69,187Oregon29.3%9.7%18.2%17.3%67,058Wyoming29.2%9.0%15.3%23.1%65,003Idaho29.0%9.3%15.1%20.4%60,999Minnesota29.0%8.5%12.9%19.6%74,593Washington28.6%9.3%15.0%16.4%78,687New Hampshire28.6%9.6%12.8%20.8%77,933Rhode Island28.5%10.1%16.5%23.5%71,169Arizona27.9%9.6%18.6%21.2%62,055New Mexico27.3%9.5%20.3%19.0%51,945Florida27.2%10.8%19.5%25.8%59,227Montana27.1%8.9%14.1%21.7%57,153Nevada27.1%10.5%19.1%22.5%63,276Vermont27.0%8.8%12.8%18.4%63,001Utah27.0%7.5%14.8%16.7%75,780New Jersey27.0%9.9%15.5%26.6%85,751New York26.4%10.1%16.3%23.4%72,108Connecticut26.3%9.2%13.0%19.9%78,833Massachusetts25.0%8.7%13.5%20.0%85,843Hawaii24.6%11.1%15.4%19.6%83,102California24.3%8.8%17.6%17.7%80,440Colorado22.4%6.6%13.8%14.8%77,127

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