In one state, the obesity rate has hit 35%. Gallup's latest obesity ranking

Mississippi residents most obese, Montanans least obese

The nation's least obese residents live in Montana, while Mississippians are the most obese, according to a Gallup-Healthways report released this week.

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The report is based on phone surveys of 178,072 residents in all 50 states and the District of Columbia conducted throughout 2013. Researchers classify residents with a body mass index of 30 or higher as obese.

The most obese states

According to the report, the 10 states with the highest rate of obese residents in 2013 are:

1. Mississippi (where 35.4% of residents were obese);
2. West Virginia (34.4%);
3. Delaware (34.3%);
4. Louisiana (32.7%);
5. Arkansas (32.3%);
6. South Carolina (31.4%);
7. Tennessee (31.3%);
8. Ohio (30.9%);
9. Kentucky (30.6%); and
10. Oklahoma (30.5%)

Residents living in the 10 states with the highest levels of obesity were also the most likely to be diagnosed with a chronic condition such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure, as well as being the most likely to develop cancer, depression, or a heart attack. About 35.8% of residents living in these states report having high blood pressure compared to 26.4% of residents living in the 10 states with the lowest obesity rates.

Obesity rankings: Rates level off in all but one state

The 10 least obese states

Meanwhile, the 10 states with the lowest rate of obese residents in 2013 were:

1. Montana (where 19.6% of residents were obese);
2. Colorado (20.4%);
3. Nevada (21.1%);
4. Minnesota (22%);
5. Massachusetts (22.2%);
6. Connecticut (23.2%);
7. New Mexico (23.5%);
8. California (23.6%);
9. Hawaii (23.7%); and
10. New York (24%).

Residents living in the states with the lowest obesity rates were more likely to report to Gallup that they'd eaten healthfully the day before than residents living in the 10 most obese states.

Overall trends

Researchers found that the national obesity rate overall increased to 27.1% from 26.2% in Gallup's 2012 report, and is up from 25.5% in 2008—Gallup's first year tracking obesity.

"While there are a variety of factors that are often correlated with rising obesity rates, such as an unhealthy food environment, poor eating habits, increasing portion sizes, and inactivity, experts agree that the health consequences of obesity are real," says James Pope, Healthways' Chief Science Officer.

He added that the "average health care costs for an obese individual are over $1,300 more annually than someone who is not obese" (Levy, Gallup-Healthways report, 3/4).

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