In U.S., Obesity Rates Remain Higher Than 20% In All States

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Colorado continues to be the state with the lowest obesity rate in the country, at 20.1% in the first half of 2011.Fewer than one in four residents are obese in the 10 states with the lowest obesity rates. In the 10 states with the highest levels of obesity, rates are 29% or higher.

West Virginia has the highest obesity rate in January through June 2011, at 34.3%, which is also the highest Gallup has measured for any state since it began tracking obesity rates in 2008.

These results are based on 177,237 interviews conducted daily from January through June 2011. Gallup tracks U.S. obesity levels as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, using Americans’ self-reported height and weight to calculate Body Mass Index (BMI) scores. BMI scores of 30 or higher are considered obese.

The 26.3% obesity rate for the nation overall in January through June of this year is essentially unchanged from 26.6% in 2010.

However, this 2011 rate is higher than the 25.5% in 2008. So far in 2011, obesity rates are generally more likely to be rising in the states where they are already the highest and declining in the places where they are lowest.

The states with the highest rates of obesity continue to be clustered in the South and the Midwest, as in past years. Western and Northeastern states still boast the lowest levels of obesity.



Bottom Line

While obesity in the United States as a whole remains unchanged so far in 2011 compared with last year, many of the country’s most obese states continue to see the trend go in the wrong direction. At the same time, many states are registering improvements this year. Still, in no state are obesity rates lower than 20%, revealing residents throughout the entire country have much work to do to begin to tackle the nation’s obesity problem.

This story is part of a series of midyear updates on Gallup’s State of the States data, released in August on will report new full-year totals in early 2012 based on all 2011 surveys.

To view and export trend data and for more information on each of the six Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index sub-indexes, please see the following charts: Well-Being Index, Life Evaluation Index, Emotional Health Index, Physical Health Index, Healthy behaviour Index, Work Environment Index, and Basic Access Index.

About the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index tracks U.S. and U.K. wellbeing and provides best-in-class solutions for a healthier world. To learn more, please visit

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey Jan. 2-June 30, 2011, with a random sample of 177,237 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, selected using random-digit-dial sampling.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±0.2 percentage points. The margin of sampling error or most states is ±1-2 points, but is as high as ±4 points for smaller states such as Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Hawaii.

This post originally appeared on Gallup Management Journal.