We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is the Fattest American State?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated Jan 30, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

According to a major study conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Mississippi is the fattest state in the United States. The study used the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System database with the diet and exercise information of 300,000 American adults from the years 2003 to 2005. The study found that over two thirds of Mississippi's population is either overweight or obese. Being overweight is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) between about 25 and 29.9, while a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese. A normal BMI is often considered to be within the 18.5 to 24.9 range with anything below 18 considered underweight.

As BMI is calculated using only a person's height and weight measurements, some say it is not an accurate indicator of fitness. No considerations are given for muscle mass weighing more than fat. Athletes, for example, have more lean muscle than fat, but may still come out with a higher BMI than someone who is actually somewhat overweight. Others say the fattest state study is controversial as research has shown a definite correlation between obesity and poverty levels. Poor people do not have the same access to healthier foods and gym memberships as richer people.

The fattest county in the fattest state is definitely one of the poorest areas in the United States. Jefferson County, in Fayette, Mississippi in the Delta region has the highest concentration of overweight and obese people in the fattest state. Jefferson County, population 7,000, has very low average incomes and high unemployment rates. The tiny Mississippi town does have a nutrition center and weight loss classes, but many who live there see being heavy as normal and not unhealthy.

Many people think the history of slavery plays a part in Jefferson's distinction as the fattest county in America's fattest state. Slaves worked hard all day in the Mississippi Delta in the 1850s and existed on low quality, but rich and filling foods such as calorie-laden gumbos and cornbreads. The same types of satisfying food remain a part of culture of the fattest state today. Biscuits and gravy, and many fried foods are eaten regularly in the Mississippi Delta region of the fattest state. Fried foods such as chicken fried steak, shrimp, catfish, pecans, sweet potatoes, and even dill pickles are common fare here.

Although the origin of Mississippi mud pie is disputed, the rich, densely chocolate pie is at least named for the dark thick mud banks along the Mississippi river. The pie is widely sold in the fattest state. Since the study labeling Mississippi as America's fattest state, government park-building and nutrition intervention programs have been launched in Mississippi.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon180386 — On May 26, 2011

I am a resident of Mississippi and constantly see overweight people. I always try to get others to join and work out with me but no one seems to "have time" or they are to obese now and have no hope for themselves. Any advice on how to make my state care about their health?

By cyprus — On Feb 14, 2011

Anon138011: The Fountain Grill on Hwy 45 North in Aberdeen, Mississippi is known for its Chicken fried steak platters.

Chicken fried steak has also been featured on menus at the University of Southern Mississippi.

By anon138011 — On Dec 29, 2010

Chicken Fried Steaks are not a part of Mississippi's diet.

By anon92854 — On Jun 30, 2010

I think you both are nuts. why don't you worry about yourselves and leave the Mississippians alone? You are just jealous because you don't have those great biscuits and gravy along with the other great foods.

By anon74880 — On Apr 04, 2010

The Alcorn State University Extension Program is now making plans to target Jefferson and Clairborne Counties in Mississippi for a Comprehensive Obesity Prevention Program using the research-based and tested Alcorn State University Extension Program Model for Planned Change.

By anon68644 — On Mar 03, 2010

Dear Sheri, I'm doing research on obesity in Mississippi. Would you be able to post your sources? I'd really like a chance to look into some of them. Thanks for your help.

By AuthorSheriC — On Mar 09, 2008

Yes, in my research for writing this article I found that some experts do see a connection between obesity and poverty. Culture and climate are also part of it. Recent studies have found that friends play a major part in being overweight. (If you're interested in that topic you can access my article, "Is Obesity Actually Contagious?"

By olittlewood — On Jan 16, 2008

can rates of obesity be linked to poverty? i moved from california to missouri several years ago, and it was easy to gain weight! i think kansas city has ranked pretty high in obesity in the nation as well. a lot of it is the culture, and climate...places like Colorado, California and Arizona are typically the skinniest or healthiest states. how can you not get out and exercise?!

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.