WalletHub on Wednesday released its list of the “Most Overweight & Obese States” in 2022, with West Virginia topping the list.
For the analysis, WalletHub looked at 31 metrics in three dimensions among all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Those dimensions were:
- Measures of a state’s obesity and overweight prevalence, including the percentages of overweight and obese adults, teenagers, and children in the state
- Measures of the health consequences associated with a state’s overweight and obesity rates, including the percentages of adults with high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease in the state
- Measures of a state’s general food and fitness scores, including the percentages of adults eating less than one serving of fruits or vegetables a day, consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages among adolescents, and fast-food restaurants per capita in the state
To determine overall rank, WalletHub evaluated states based on their scores on those dimensions, weighting each category as follows:
- Obesity and overweight prevalence (60 points)
- Health consequences (25 points)
- Food and fitness (15 points)
WalletHub then calculated a weighted average across all metrics to calculate an overall score.
WalletHub gathered its data from several sources, including information collected by the U.S. Census Bureau, CDC, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The most overweight states
Based on overall score, West Virginia is the most overweight state, while Colorado is the least overweight state.
WalletHub also ranked the states by how they performed in each of the three dimensions. According to WalletHub:
- West Virginia ranked the worst for obesity and overweight prevalence, while Colorado ranked the best
- West Virginia ranked the worst in the health consequences dimension, while Hawaii ranked the best
- Mississippi ranked the worst in the food and fitness dimension, while Massachusetts ranked the best
Experts weigh in with weight loss tips
According to CDC, an individual with a body mass index (BMI) between 25 and 30 is considered overweight, and those with a BMI of 30 or higher are considered obese. However, some experts have noted that BMI may not the best way to measure body fat because the test does not differentiate between bone density, muscle mass, and body fat.
Still, increased consumption of healthy food and physical activity can help reverse weight gain and negative health effects. Some experts encourage shifting away from the focus on total body weight to individual health to help lose weight.
“The biggest mistake people make is being weight focused,” said Fatma Huffman, a professor in the department of dietetics and nutrition at Florida International University.
“Weight concerns should be directed to focus on health, not weight,” Huffman added.
In addition, many experts highlight the importance of making sustainable lifestyle choices.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when going trying to lose weight is “[g]oing on a diet that they cannot sustain,” according to David Julian McClements, a professor in the University of Massachusetts Amherst‘s department of food science at the College of Natural Science.
“The regime may be too strict, or the foods may be undesirable. Better to eat three good meals a day, cut out snacks between meals, do not drink sugary beverages, and exercise (even a walk per day),” McClements said.
“Some of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to lose weight include depriving themselves of a particular food group or calories,” noted Sandy Bargainnier, a professor of health promotion and wellness and program coordinator at the State University of New York at Oswego. “This may be the jump start you need, but if it is not sustainable, you will quickly gain back any weight you lose.” (Melillo, “Changing America,” The Hill, 11/15; McCann, WalletHub “2022’s Most Overweight and Obese States in America,” 11/14)
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