Which State is the Fattest and Least Healthy?

As the big holidays — and even larger meals — approach, a new study identifies the fattest states, and offers tips for staying slim.

Mississippi is the fattest and most unhealthy state in the nation, according to a new analysis by WalletHub.

It earned an overall score of 51.73 out of 100, with zero being the best score and 100 being the worst.

That’s based on an analysis of 12 metrics, such as the percentage of adults who:

  • Are overweight or obese
  • Are inactive
  • Eat less than one serving of fruits or vegetables per day

The least unhealthy state, Hawaii, earned a score of 35.8.

The WalletHub report cites a Journal of the American Medical Association finding that three-quarters of American adults are overweight or obese, with obese people now outnumbering overweight people for the first time.

WalletHub also interviewed experts about how consumers can improve their diets without hurting their financial health. The experts’ suggestions focus on two food groups:

Produce

Pouran D. Faghri, a professor of health promotion sciences at the University of Connecticut, notes:

“Eating healthy means more fruits, and vegetable and less fat and simple carbs, and that could be expensive.”

She recommends:

  • Buying in-season fruits and vegetables and considering farmers markets.
  • Freezing vegetables, many of which can be frozen for a while without losing nutritional value.
  • Buying canned fruits (without sugary syrup) and vegetables, which have good nutritional values, have longer shelf lives, and are cheaper than fresh produce.

Nutrition expert Lisa Sasson, a clinical associate professor of nutrition at New York University, also suggests in-season and frozen produce, as well as growing your own.

For more tips, check out “10 Ways to Get More Out of the Farmers Market” and “Shrink Your Grocery Budget by Growing Your Food.”

Protein

Nutrition expert Joan Salge Blake, a clinical associate professor of nutrition and health sciences at Boston University, notes that protein is one of the most expensive food groups, but that there’s room to cut back on it:

“Americans tend to eat too much of this food group, and it is draining their wallet. A consumer is often shocked that the boneless, skinless chicken breast on their plate is actually over 6 ounces, so you can make two meals out of it.”

Meanwhile, Sasson suggests canned fish over costlier fresh fish.

For more tips, check out “7 Ways to Save on Meat.”

What’s your favorite way to save money on healthy foods? Share your thoughts in our Forums. It’s a place where you can swap questions and answers on money-related matters, life hacks and ingenious ways to save.

Stacy Johnson

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