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Which states have the most overweight, obese populations?

Colorado has the lowest percentage of obese adults, 25%, which is 1.6 times lower than in West Virginia, the state with the highest at 40.7%.

With November being National Diabetes Awareness Month and obesity costing the healthcare system $173 billion each year, WalletHub today released its report on 2022's Most Overweight & Obese States in America.

To determine which states contribute the most to America’s overweight and obesity problem, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 31 key metrics. They range from the share of overweight and obese population to sugary-beverage consumption among adolescents to obesity-related healthcare costs.

20 most overweight and obese states:

  1. West Virginia
  2.  Mississippi    
  3.  Kentucky       
  4. Arkansas       
  5. Alabama       
  6. Tennessee    
  7.  Louisiana      
  8.  Delaware      
  9.  Oklahoma     
  10.  South Carolina       
  11.  Georgia
  12.  Texas
  13.  Ohio
  14.  Missouri
  15.  North Carolina
  16.  Iowa
  17.  Kansas
  18.  Michigan
  19.  Indiana
  20.  Virginia

Key statistics:

  • Colorado has the lowest percentage of obese adults, 25%, which is 1.6 times lower than in West Virginia, the state with the highest at 40.7%;
  •  The District of Columbia has the lowest percentage of physically inactive adults, 16.20%, which is 1.9 times lower than in Mississippi, the state with the highest at 30.10%;
  •  Colorado has the lowest percentage of diabetic adults, 6.5%, which is 2.1 times lower than in Mississippi, the state with the highest at 13.7%; and
  •  Colorado has the lowest percentage of adults with high blood pressure, 24.6%, which is 1.6 times lower than in Mississippi, the state with the highest at 40.2%.

What are some tips for eating healthy without breaking the bank?

Read more: The future of diabetes care: Partnering with pharmacies to address the critical needs of people with diabetes]

“There are many strategies for eating healthy without breaking the bank. Planning meals, using coupons, shopping store brands, shopping seasonally and buying canned or frozen foods are some ways to save money and eat well," said Sandy Bargainnier,  professor; program coordinator: Integrative Professional Studies, State University of New York at Oswego. "When planning meals, consider using ingredients for multiple meals or leftovers. Although coupons may save money on some name-brand items, compare store-brand items against name brands. Eventually, you will discover that many store-brand sauces, spices and products, in general, are as good or better than name brands. Shopping for in-season fresh fruits and vegetables is another cost saver. Think green beans, lettuce and berries in the summer and squash and cabbage in the fall. Buying frozen is even better as the flash freeze process maintains more nutrients that can be lost quickly with fresh produce being shipped and stored."

“With winter here, anyone in a colder environment cannot discount the value of dried goods and frozen produce. They are lighter on the wallet and can sit shelf-stable as a staple for many dishes. Preparing homemade soups, stews and chili can make big batches that freeze, so you can mix things up and not get bored of eating the same things every day. Slip in extra nutrients wherever you can, like a few nuts, seeds or greens in your smoothie. It will not take much and will pack a nutritious punch for pennies. Prioritizing nutrient-dense foods over more heavily processed foods with chemicals and fillers. Supplements are a big money industry right now, and if that works for your wallet – great. Check out cooking or local dietician websites for budget-friendly recipes before you go shopping and stick with your list. New recipes also can keep you interested in your meals rather than feeling stuck with whatever is least expensive,” said Elizabeth Goodson, adjunct instructor, department of Health Studies; Doctor of Clinical Nutrition, student - Class of 2023 – American University.

What are the biggest mistakes people make when trying to lose weight?

“The biggest mistake people make when losing weight is to eliminate a food group, like eating no dairy and restricting calories severely. This will lower metabolism and make weight loss more difficult. Aerobic exercise is always good in a weight loss or weight maintenance program,” said Janelle Walter, retired professor emeritus, Baylor University.

“Going on a diet that they cannot sustain. 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),” said David Julian McClements, distinguished professor, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

The CDC has expanded the risk for severe illness to include not just obese people, but overweight people as well. What proactive measures can overweight people take to prevent severe complications? Here is some expert advice:

[Read more: Enhancing diabetes prevention and care services]

“The prevention of excess weight gain is essential to prevent severe complications and reduce the likelihood of disease. Engaging in a balanced lifestyle with sufficient sleep, healthy stress management techniques, daily physical activity including regular exercise, and a nutrient-dense diet with a variety of vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains are excellent ways to maintain a healthy weight for anyone. Some simple ways to get started with healthy lifestyle changes are to keep off the log so you know where you are before you start, track your behavior so you can see a change, make challenging yet attainable goals and share them with a friend for accountability,” said Susan B. Sisson, professor, associate dean for research and chair, department of Allied Health Sciences; professor and director, Master of Science in Nutritional Sciences; director, Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity Laboratory, University of Oklahoma.

 “The best approach from the dietitian’s recommendation would be to stop focusing on weight and concentrate on eating healthy and staying healthy by exercising daily. Walking, and swimming are very good types of exercise and do not require any special equipment. Even walking inside your home can add up steps. Reduce screen time (TV watching) and eating after dinner. Eliminate high-fat high sugar foods or reduce to the minimum. I had a client who stopped drinking carbonated beverages and lost 20 pounds in a month. Which helped her normalize her HbA1C. This was not changing anything else just not drinking soft drinks. Alcohol adds more calories than foods that accept fats. Minimize alcohol intake. Since alcohol does not add nutrients just empty calories.” said Fatma Huffman, professor; founding director of PhD program, Fellow of the American Society for Nutrition, Florida International University.

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