How do Idahoans’ health stack up? Here’s where we rank in U.S. obesity list

Idaho’s many winding trails and footpaths through its mountains, or downtown Boise’s emphasis on walkability and biking, are helping out Idahoans combat obesity, according to a recent study.

According to a new study from personal finance website WalletHub, Idahoans are among some of the fittest people in America. In the study titled “Most Overweight and Obese States in America,” the Gem State was ranked 38th out of the 50 states plus the District of Columbia in rates that measured obesity, health outcomes, healthy food consumption and fitness levels.

Low obesity rates were common in the Northwest — all of Idaho’s bordering states were ranked among some of the lowest obesity rates nationwide, with Nevada having the highest rate at 27th.

Source: WalletHub

WalletHub used three key dimensions to formulate the rankings to determine America’s most overweight states: obesity and overweight prevalence among the population; health consequences, such as heart disease and diabetes; and available food and fitness opportunities.

Under those three dimensions are 31 key metrics, such as the projected obesity rate by 2030, the share of adults with high cholesterol, and the share of adults eating less than one serving of fruits or vegetables today. A total score of 100 was calculated for each state to determine its final ranking.

Data was gathered from the Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative, the Data Resource Center for Child & Adolescent Health, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, among other sources.

Idaho earned a score of 55.6, alongside neighboring states Wyoming (37th) and Oregon (39th). Under the key dimensions, Idaho ranked 46th for obesity and overweight prevalence, 14th for health consequences, and 11th for food and fitness.

According to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, the Gem State is following the nationwide trend of increasing obesity rates.

What are Idaho’s obesity rates?

According to the most recent data available from the Idaho Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, the percentage of Idaho adults ages 18 or older who reported having obesity rose from 20.5% in 2001 to 31.6% in 2021.

The same data showed that 67.4% of adults in Idaho report being either overweight or obese.

The Idaho Youth Risk Behavior Survey also noted an increase in Idaho high school student obesity rates, with 28.1% of high schoolers reporting as slightly or very overweight and 11.9% as obese.

Although not a definitive measure, the easiest way for health professionals to measure whether someone is overweight or obese is the Body Mass Index. A healthy BMI score is considered between 18.5 and 24.9, overweight is 25 to 29.9, and obese is 30 and above.

Which are the most overweight states?

Here are the top 10 most overweight and obese states, according to WalletHub, which has an emphasis on the American south and southeast. Each state’s cumulative score is in parenthesis:

  1. West Virginia (75.6)

  2. Mississippi (72)

  3. Kentucky (69)

  4. Louisiana (68.8)

  5. Arkansas (68.2)

  6. Tennessee (67.7)

  7. Alabama (67.3)

  8. Texas (66.1)

  9. South Carolina (65.8)

  10. Delaware (64.7)