Obesity in California: How Does Our State Stack Up?

March 13, 2018 - by - in Bariatric Surgery

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As a nation, we’re getting heavier. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in 2016, at least 20 percent of every state’s adult citizens were obese, with five heavy-weight states packing more than 35 percent obesity. With every pound gained, health, quality of life and self-esteem are affected.  

Currently, the state that holds the title of most obese is West Virginia, with 37.7 percent of their adult population considered obese. But, how does California rank among the rest of the nation? Does the health-conscious, active image of California hold up or is it just an illusion?

California’s obesity rate

In California, adult obesity is at 25 percent and our state ranks 47th out of 50 states for obese citizens, according to The State of Obesity report from the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. When we compare ourselves to the rest of the country, we have lower rates of obesity.

Although it feels like good news, it really isn’t. Despite being among the lowest rates in the country, obesity has risen steadily in California over the past three decades. In 2000, 18.7 percent were obese and in 1990 the obesity rate was just 9.9 percent.

How does California compare?

States with the highest obesity rates

Which characteristics influence obesity genetics, environment or other factors? Environment or culture appears to be a factor, because the five states with the highest rates of obesity are all in the South:

  1. West Virginia: 37.7%
  2. Mississippi: 37.3%
  3. Alabama: 35.7%
  4. Arkansas: 35.7%
  5. Louisiana: 35.5%

A 2017 slideshow by U.S. News and World Reports confirms that poverty plays a big part on obesity. Here are the top 5 obese states and where they rank economically:

  1. West Virginia: #5
  2. Mississippi: #1 (20.8% poverty rate)
  3. Alabama: #7
  4. Arkansas: #6
  5. Louisiana: #2

States with the lowest obesity rates

Here are the states in the union with the lowest obesity rates:

  1. Colorado: 22.3%
  2. District of Columbia: 22.6%
  3. Massachusetts: 23.6%
  4. Hawaii: 23.8%
  5. California: 25.0%

It’s interesting that the opposite theory regarding poverty doesn’t apply; of the top 10 richest states, only three have the lowest rates of obesity: District of Columbia, Massachusetts and California.

Another interesting trend is that obesity seems to be stabilizing. In the year between 2015 and 2016, only four states had an increase in obese citizens: Colorado, Minnesota, West Virginia and Washington; while one state, Kansas, showed a decrease in obesity. The remaining states’ obesity rates were stable. 

As a nation, we may not be getting any fatter, but with more than one-third (36.5 percent) of U.S. adults considered obese (CDC), we are at risk for serious health complications unless we’re able to get obesity under control.  

Reducing weight

obesity rates in california

Consciously changing your eating habits and increasing your activity level can help you take off unwanted pounds. The CDC recommends a three-pronged approach to changing eating habits: reflect, replace and reinforce. Here’s a simplified step-by-step outline:

  • Reflect on your current eating habits by creating a list
  • Replace your unhealthy foods with healthier choices
  • Be aware of the cues that can trigger overeating
  • Reinforce your new positive habits and acknowledge your progress

If eating between meals is your downfall, replace snacking with any of these healthy alternatives that include going for a walk, meditating or playing with your kids. Don’t let food win; distract yourself with another activity.

Increasing your physical activity in Los Angeles is another way to jump-start weight loss. But, if you haven’t been active in the recent past, it’s probably not a good idea to sign up for a cross-fit gym and launch into an intense workout. You can start slowly with walking several times weekly, gradually increasing the time and distance you walk. 

Learn more about weight loss surgery in Los Angeles

There are several types of bariatric surgeries available. These procedures reduce the size of your stomach to restrict the amount of food that you can eat, which can be a blessing to individuals with portion-control issues. But, to be successful at losing weight and keeping it off, adopting a healthy diet and exercising are important.

>>Take Our Quiz: Which Weight Loss Surgery Is Best For You?

If you live in the Los Angeles area and are considering bariatric surgery, contact Soma Weight Loss to discuss your options. We would love to help you lead a healthy and vibrant life!

Ami Soma

Ami has served as the patient coordinator for Soma Weight Loss for over five years, and is responsible for calling new patients, discussing procedures and scheduling consultations and follow-ups. She assists patients with setting up financing for their procedures and advises patients on their non-surgical weight loss options.