A new study from the personal finance website Wallethub has found Tennessee to have the single highest percentage of overweight children in the country, and the fourth "fattest state" in the country overall. Comparing states using three main categories; obesity and overweight prevalence, health consequences and food and fitness, the study further divided its research into 29 key metrics such as projected obesity rates, the share of adults with high cholesterol and the amount of fast food restaurants per person.
Data from the Center for Child and Adolescent Health found that in 2017, more than 37 percent of adolescents (ages 10 - 17) were overweight or obese in Tennessee, far above the national average of 18.5 percent. States that ranked second, third and fourth for highest percentage of overweight children were Maryland, Kentucky and South Carolina, respectively. States that were found to have the lowest percentage of overweight children were Louisiana, Pennsylvania and Indiana, respectively.
Data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found other factors that correlate consistently with the prevalence of obese children. Adolescent obesity was found to decrease in households with parents with increasing levels of education as well as income. Regarding income, adolescents in households deemed as the highest income group were 10.9 percent obese, whereas adolescents in households deemed the lowest income group were 18.9 percent obese.
Ethnicity saw some correlation as well in terms of childhood obesity. For non-Hispanic whites, 14.1 percent of children were found to be obese, whereas black and Hispanic children saw obesity rates of 22 and 25.8 percent, respectively.
Regarding Wallethub’s three categories it used to measure obesity rates, Tennessee ranked second worst in the country for food and fitness, which measures metrics like the amount of fitness centers and fast food restaurants per person, sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and the share of adults eating less than one serving of vegetables and/or fruits per day.