Article Content

A Gallup Poll released on March 6 of this year reports again that southern states have a higher obesity rate than other regions in the United States. For the third year in a row, first ranked was West Virginia with a resident obesity rate of 33.5%, followed by Mississippi (32.2%). Rounding out the top 10 were Arkansas (31.4%), Louisiana (30.9%), Alabama (30.4%), Kentucky (29.7%), and Tennessee (29.6%), Ohio (29.5%), Oklahoma (29.2%), and Iowa (29%).


Colorado reported an obesity rate of 18.7%, making it the only state with less than 20% of the population obese. Rounding out the top 5 lowest rankings were Massachusetts (21.5%), Montana (22.0%), Connecticut (22.7%), and California (23.1%). These were followed by Utah (23.9%), Arizona (24.1%), Rhode Island (24.3%), and Idaho (24.4%), New Jersey (24.4%), and Washington (24.4%). Note that the 30 states in between the 10 most obese states and 10 least obese states exhibit overall less than a 5% difference in the reported rates of obesity. The overall mean obesity rate for the United States remained at 26.2%. These data are based on self-reports of height and weight, with a body mass index of 30 kg/m2 or higher indicating obesity.


Perhaps the most disturbing statistic is that even with our increased awareness of the health hazards of obesity, our education of the public, and our efforts at assisting patients with weight loss, no statistical changes have occurred in these data from 2011 to 2012. As nurses, faculty, and nursing students, we need to continue to participate diligently in efforts to determine strategies that assist our patients, friends, and family with achieving healthy weights.


Source: Bass K. March 6, 2013. Coloradans least obese, West Virginians most for third year: obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure by state held steady in 2012. Gallup Wellbeing. Available at Accessed March 13, 2013.


Submitted by: Robin E. Pattillo, PhD, RN, CNL, News Editor