Kansas ranked 13th worst for its percentage of obese adults in survey results released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control, and Missouri was tied for 20th. Those states, and many others in the middle of the rankings, were so close together that their differences fell within the survey’s margin of error.
Among Kansans giving their height and weight in 2014 for the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey, 31.3 percent were obese, based on their body mass index. For Missourians, it was 30.2 percent, the same as in Nebraska and Pennsylvania.
Though the rates are high, they were relatively steady in this survey from 2013 to 2014, increasing only in Kansas, Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio and Utah. But they have gone up in most states since 2011, when some changes were made in how the survey was conducted. Missouri was one of only half a dozen states to have lower rates in 2014 than in 2011.
Above, you can toggle between state maps for 2011 and 2014, and a snapshot of a map from research firm RTI International based on these data that gets down to a neighborhood level. (Click here to go to the RTI map. It won’t zero in on a particular address, but if you click “location” and then “enable device location” it will give you an area map you can zoom in on.) The RTI map’s color scale runs from blue for low obesity rates to red for higher rates. In the Kansas City area, lower-income areas in Kansas City, Mo., and Kansas City, Kan., tend toward red, and more affluent areas in Johnson County tend toward blue.
In the state breakdowns for 2014, Arkansas was the worst, at 35.9 percent of its adults obese, and Colorado the best, at 21.3 percent. Other estimates not based on so-called self-reported numbers tend to run higher, with one estimate being that nearly 35 percent of all U.S. adults are obese.
The Midwest had the highest percentage of obese adults, 30.7 percent, followed by the South, 30.6 percent, the Northeast, 27.3 percent, and the West, 25.7 percent.
The health care costs of preventable chronic diseases in the U.S. stemming from obesity are estimated from $147 billion to nearly $210 billion a year. Related job absenteeism is estimated to cost $4.3 billion a year, in addition to lower productivity when on the job.
Here are the worst states, with rates above 35 percent, and the best, with rates below 25 percent. Kansas and Missouri are among 19 states with rates between 30 and 35 percent.
Pct. pt. change, 2011-14
2. West Virginia