Who has the worst eating habits?

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When I think about bad eating habits the following immediately come to mind:

  1. Skipping Breakfast
  2. Fast Food and, in particular, supersizing
  3. Fried Food
  4. Soda
  5. Unbalanced emphasis on simply carbohydrates
  6. Snacking late at night, especially on sweets
  7. Lack of fruits and vegetables
  8. Eating to relieve stress
  9. Overeating

Poor eating habits often are influenced by one’s access to quality food, as suggested by USDA reports to congress.

In the U.S., this is really not an excuse for an unhealthy lifestyle but does mean we have to work a little harder to improve our health through the right nutritional choices.  Only a small percentage of Americans are actually constrained to the point that they cannot obtain healthy and nutritious food.

And, it is poor eating habits – our choices – that are leading to obesity and related health problems, such as Type 2 Diabetes, stroke, cancer and coronary artery disease.   The overall spending related to our choices is quoted in the $147 billion range.

The nutritional portion could be measured by the amount of soda, fast food and sweets consumed, which is exactly what a recent report did last month that lists the 10 states with the worst eating habits.

10. New Mexico

Amount Spent on Fast Food Per Capita: $737 (8th most)

Gallons of Soft Drinks Purchased Per Capita: 58 (12th least)

Pounds of Sweet Snacks Purchased Per Capita: 111 (13th least)

9. Arizona

Amount Spent on Fast Food Per Capita: $761 (4th most)

Gallons of Soft Drinks Purchased Per Capita: 60 (21st least)

Pounds of Sweet Snacks Purchased Per Capita: 109 (11th least)

8. Ohio

Amount Spent on Fast Food Per Capita: $622 (20th least)

Gallons of Soft Drinks Purchased Per Capita: 70 (11th most)

Pounds of Sweet Snacks Purchased Per Capita: 122 (10th most)

7. South Dakota

Amount Spent on Fast Food Per Capita: $547 (9th least)

Gallons of Soft Drinks Purchased Per Capita: 64 (23rd least)

Pounds of Sweet Snacks Purchased Per Capita: 122 (8th most)

6. Nevada

Amount Spent on Fast Food Per Capita: $939 (most)

Gallons of Soft Drinks Purchased Per Capita: 58 (10th least)

Pounds of Sweet Snacks Purchased Per Capita: 114 (19th least)

5. Oklahoma

Amount Spent on Fast Food Per Capita: $676 (15th most)

Gallons of Soft Drinks Purchased Per Capita: 69.8 (8th most)

Pounds of Sweet Snacks Purchased Per Capita: 103.2 (3rd least)

4. Kansas

Amount Spent on Fast Food Per Capita: $610 (19th least)

Gallons of Soft Drinks Purchased Per Capita: 64 (23rd most)

Pounds of Sweet Snacks Purchased Per Capita: 121 (12th most)

3. Missouri

Amount Spent on Fast Food Per Capita: $623 (21st least)

Gallons of Soft Drinks Purchased Per Capita: 65 (18th highest)

Pounds of Sweet Snacks Purchased Per Capita: 121 (17th most)

2. Alabama

Amount Spent on Fast Food Per Capita: $649 (23rd most)

Gallons of Soft Drinks Purchased Per Capita: 77 (4th most)

Pounds of Sweet Snacks Purchased Per Capita: 113 (16th least)

1. Mississippi

Amount Spent on Fast Food Per Capita: $588 (17th least)

Gallons of Soft Drinks Purchased Per Capita: 82 (most)

Pounds of Sweet Snacks Purchased Per Capita: 113 (17th least)

Now the published study also heavily weighed access to grocery stores, which I didn’t include in this list.  However, what is clear, is the high correlation between eating habits, as reflected in these metrics and the incidence of obesity and Type 2 Diabetes – at least in the top 5.  Mississippi, as the highest consumer of soda per capita, has the number one rate of diabetes in the country.

Interestingly, the poor dietary patterns did not hold up for all of the states on the list.  For example, Arizona shows up as a relatively lean state in the figure below:

One of the questions I have regarding studies like this is the role that occupation plays in obesity.  In fact, I wondered if certain types of jobs lead to choices and statewide trends that, in aggregate, show up like the list above?  If so, I would imagine higher stress, longer hours and sedentary positions are associated with obesity.

 

Comments

  1. Mark says:

    Wow, very interesting statistics, good work putting this together.
    Great read.

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