Being No. 1 isn’t always a good thing. According to new data released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mississippi leads the country in terms of obesity with 34.9% of its population qualifying as obese — meaning one’s weight is 20% or more above the normal weight — while Colorado falls at the other end of the spectrum with a 20.7% obesity rate.
A body mass index of between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight, while a BMI higher than 30 is considered obese. Obesity greatly increases the risk of coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and cancer, among other medical conditions.
While the obesity epidemic isn’t exactly news, the new numbers are shocking when put in perspective: In 2000, all states had obesity rates below 30%. The 2011 data, though, indicates that 12 states had rates higher (sometimes significantly higher) than 30%: Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia.
The CDC’s statistics are based on adults’ heights and weights as reported through a 2011 telephone survey. Mississippi, Louisiana and West Virginia took the top three spots for most obese states, while Colorado, Hawaii and Massachusetts boast the least obese populations.
Unsurprisingly, it looks like all that fried food has taken a toll on the South; the region leads the country in obesity at 29.5%, with the Midwest following close behind at 29%. The Northeast clocked in at 25.3% and the West at 24.3%.
According to the CDC, medical costs associated with obesity in 2008 were estimated at $147 billion; the medical costs paid by third-party payers for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight.
Check out the map below to find out where your state falls.
Click here to see the full list of states and the corresponding prevalence of obesity.