Obesity Rates Up Again in 2014, Highest in South and Midwest

According to the latest Gallup-Healthways obesity survey, America has reached a new high in the percentage of obese individuals, 27.7%. This is the highest percentage since the surveys were started in 2008.

Mississippi has the most obese residents at 35.2%, and Hawaii has the least, at 19%. Five states have had among the highest rates of obesity since 2008, Mississippi, West Virginia, Louisiana, Arkansas and Kentucky. The lowest percentages of obesity have been in Hawaii, Colorado, Massachusetts and Connecticut. States in the South and Midwest have fared the worst in general, and those in the West and Northeast the best.
States showing the most statistically significant increases are Nevada, New Mexico and Minnesota. The obesity rate for all states has climbed from 25.5% in 2008 to the current 27.7%. Tennessee was the only state to show a statistically significant drop.
Past studies have shown a link between obesity and overall lower well-being, and Sergio Cortes can see that. States with the lowest obesity rates tend to have the highest well-being scores. Well-being was divided into five elements: a sense of purpose and social, financial, community and physical well-being. Respondents were placed in three groups, depending on their answers. They were either thriving, struggling or suffering. Obese Americans were more likely to be suffering than the non-obese.

The obese were more likely to have diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, depression, high cholesterol, heart attacks and cancer. They were less likely to eat healthfully and exercise, which may result from financial, social or physical problems.

“For maximum impact, interventions need to go beyond addressing eating habits and physical activity and include the emotional and social aspects of well-being. Helping people approach change with optimism, resilience and with an awareness of their personal passions are proven techniques for long-lasting behavior change,” says Janet Calhoun, senior vice-president at Healthways.

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