Look away now if you live in West Virginia — your state has just been crowned the unhealthiest in America.
Fitness experts have created a health index to compare six key health indicators nationwide — including smoking and obesity rates, and the number of gym memberships and fast food restaurants.
The results are bad if you live in many southern and mid-western states, which make up eight of the ten least healthy states.
Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama and Ohio round out the five worst in the country, while fitness-California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Florida and Texas were ranked the healthiest overall.
The scale, made by Indiana-based online fitness company Total Shape, compiled data from public sources to rank all 50 states a score from one to 60. A higher score indicated a healthier state.
It comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed Americans are the fattest they’ve ever been after the pandemic.
Nineteen states now have obesity rates above 35 per cent — considered an alarming threshold by officials — which is double the number from just three years earlier.
A report by Total Shape found that southern and Midwestern states are among those with the least healthy populations in America. West Virginia, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi and Alabama have the worst health. The healthiest states are California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Florida and Texas
The survey — released online Tuesday — used data from official sources compiled by independent websites the World Population Review and Statista, as well as search data from Google Trends.
It examined six health measures: Searches for gyms per 100,000 people, number of gyms, gym number per 100,000 people, fast food restaurants per 100,000 people, and the proportion of adults classed as smokers or obese.
Each measure was scored from one to 10 and combined to create the ‘health index’.
The scale tended to be in line with how rich each state was, with more wealthy ones having improved access to gyms and lower obesity rates — thanks to a healthier diet.
There was also a link to smoking, with healthier states having invested far more in anti-smoking campaigns than those at the lower end.
US census data for 2020 also shows that West Virginia has the third lowest income out of all 50 states — with residents earning about $44,000 per year.
At the other end of the scale Massachusetts — with the highest incomes — saw residents earn $78,000 annually, while in Connecticut it was $78,000 and in New Jersey $73,000.
The median salary in the United States is $35,000 per year.
On smoking, California spends about $20million annually on campaigns warning residents about the health risks, while other states such as New York spend $10million. West Virginia — which had the highest smoking rate nationally — spends just $3million every year on anti-smoking campaigns on average.
Scientists have established that smoking raises the risk of a whole host of health conditions including cancer, heart disease and strokes.
In the survey, breaking down figures by gym access showed Montana had the most per head at nearly 19 gyms per 100,000, followed by Connecticut (18.8 per 100,000) and Massachusetts (16.1 per 100,000).
California — despite being named the healthiest state — came in 19th place overall with a rate of 13 gyms per 100,000 people.
Bottom of the scale was West Virginia with just eight gyms per 100,000 people — less than half that in the top states.
The state was followed by Utah and Kentucky — both with nine gyms per 100,000 people.
On fast food restaurants Hawaii had the most per head, with 102 per 100,000 people — equivalent to one outlet for every 1,000 residents. It was followed by Alabama — 88 per 100,000 — and Georgia — 87 per 100,000.
At the other end of the scale was Alaska — 58.4 per 100,000 — alongside Vermont — 58.4 per 100,000 — and Arizona — 59.5 per 100,000.
A spokesperson from Total Shape said: ‘The fast-food industry in America is worth over $250billion and one in four Americans visits a fast-food restaurant daily.
‘Even in the healthiest states such as Massachusetts and Connecticut, there are just over triple the number of fast-food restaurants than gyms. In states such as Kentucky and West Virginia, this figure rises to seven times the number of fast-food restaurants to gyms.
‘America has the most gym and health facilities in the world and the highest annual revenue from this industry globally.
‘However, the average gym member must travel between four and six miles to their local gym — whereas the average distance to the closest food establishment is between 2.6 and 3.7 miles.’
It comes after President Joe Biden declared war on obesity in September unveiling plans to tackle the nation’s expanding waistline.
The White House plans to make traffic light nutrition labels mandatory on food packaging to help customers make healthier choices, and to offer counseling to overweight people.
The proposal would see all food and drink sold in stores or supermarkets carrying a warning about their sugar, salt and fat content on the front of the product — either in a color-code or star rating system.
If it gets the go-ahead, the plan marks a step up from the existing setup which allows processed food companies to only have to put nutritional information on the backs of packaging.
The White House said the plan is designed ‘to help consumers, particularly those with lower nutrition literacy, quickly and easily identify foods that are part of a healthy eating pattern’.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will now research and propose a standardized front-of-package labeling system that will likely go out for consultation.
Biden has pledged to slash the number of Americans suffering from diet-related diseases, such as heart disease, obesity and Type 2 diabetes by 2030, though no concrete targets have been set.
More than 300,000 Americans die from weight-related issues every year, estimates suggest. A staggering 40 per cent of adults — or 105million people — are classified as obese, while up to 35million have type 2 diabetes.