The 13 “Unlucky” U.S. States With The Highest Rates of Diabetes – Worst Diabetes States

Updated: October 19th, 2019

Diabetes is an absolute epidemic in the United States. It’s the 7th leading cause of death in America, right after Alzheimer’s disease. It’s even predicted that by 2050, 1 in 3 Americans could have diabetes. So, who exactly in the United States is most likely to develop diabetes? Well, it depends on your health, family history, lifestyle, and even where you are brought up. For example, living in one of the US states with the highest rates of diabetes might even put you at risk…

So, here are the 13 “unlucky” U.S. states where you are statistically most likely to develop the disease [via The State of Obesity]:

Worst Diabetes State #13. Pennsylvania (11.2% of adults)

Worst Diabetes Pennsylvania Health and Experiences
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Flickr user Nicholas A. Tonelli

The Quaker state isn’t a place that most people consider to be unhealthy. However, some people refer to Pennsylvania as “the snack food capital of the world.” The bottom line is that 11.2% of those living in Pennsylvania have diabetes, and this is a serious concern.

Worst Diabetes State #12. Louisiana (11.3% of adults)

Worst Diabetes Louisiana Health and Experiences
Image Credit: YouTube user Rhonda Lynn Duff

Louisiana is a place where most people are taught to enjoy good food and drink. Unfortunately, indulging in tasty crawfish and jambalaya too often has its potential drawbacks – since foods that contribute to heart disease and high blood pressure can trigger type 2 diabetes.

Worst Diabetes State #11. New Mexico (11.5% of adults)

Worst Diabetes New Mexico Health and Experiences
Image Credit: Flickr user Wolfgang Staudt

While many people in New Mexico enjoy active outdoor lifestyles, the state as a whole has its share of problems. New Mexico consistently ranks highest in child poverty rates, which means that many of the state’s children are suffering from a severe lack of nutrition.

Worst Diabetes State #10. Georgia (11.6% of adults)

Worst Diabetes Georgia Health and Experiences
Image Credit: Flickr user Lee Coursey

Georgia has some of the best Southern food in the nation. That’s a fact. But, over 30% of Georgia’s population is obese, and that’s a much more serious issue that needs to be dealt with. Obesity is often linked with diabetes, as well as a variety of other health risks.

Worst Diabetes State #9. Ohio (11.7% of adults)

Worst Diabetes Ohio Health and Experiences
Image Credit: Flickr user Chris Thompson

Another one of the rare northern states with an alarmingly high rate of diabetes is Ohio. Diabetes has become such a concern in the state that some are declaring war against childhood obesity, and demanding greater access to gyms and physical activity in public schools.

Worst Diabetes State #8. South Carolina (12% of adults)

Worst Diabetes South Carolina Health and Experiences
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

South Carolina might be well-known for its Southern cooking or Lowcountry cuisine, but a lesser-known fact is that its population suffers from one of the worst health epidemics to hit the United States. About 1 in 8 people living in South Carolina suffer from diabetes.

Worst Diabetes State #7. Oklahoma (12% of adults)

Worst Diabetes Oklahoma Health and Experiences
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Flickr user Katsrcool

While not exactly a Southern state, the Midwestern region of the United States has its fair share of diabetes issues too. Oklahomans contribute to having the 6th worst obesity rate in the nation, and the 9th worst when it comes to adults living with hypertension. This makes diabetes a major health risk in Oklahoma.

Worst Diabetes State #6. Kentucky (12.5% of adults)

Worst Diabetes Kentucky Health and Experiences
Image Credit: Flickr user Navin75

It’s not just fried food that contributes to Kentucky’s diabetes epidemic. A Gallup poll published in 2014 suggests that Kentucky has the highest number of smokers in the United States – which is thought to play a possible role in the state’s diabetes epidemic, among many other unhealthy habits.

Worst Diabetes State #5. Arkansas (12.7% of adults)

Worst Diabetes Kentucky Health and Experiences
Image Credit: Flickr user Mike Norton

Health, fitness, poverty, and public education can all contribute to diabetes. Arkansas is a state that’s lacking in each of these areas. It isn’t too difficult to see why almost 1 in 8 people living in Arkansas have the disease.

Worst Diabetes State #4. Alabama (12.9% of adults)

Worst Diabetes Alabama Health and Experiences
Image Credit: Flickr user Sunsurfr

Alabama is the 4th worst U.S. state in regards to the number of adults living with diabetes. A combination of health, fitness, lifestyle, and other unhealthy factors play a major role in the health crisis that’s crushing southern U.S. states such as Alabama.

Worst Diabetes State #3. Mississippi (13% of adults)

Worst Diabetes Mississippi Health and Experiences
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Flickr user Natalie Maynor

You might have noticed that Southern U.S. states have the worst diabetes rates in the nation. It’s believed that states with below-average education, income, and access to medical care are often hit the hardest by the diabetes epidemic. Mississippi falls right into this category of Southern U.S. states that are lacking in critical areas.

Worst Diabetes State #2. Tennessee (13% of adults)

Worst Diabetes Tennessee Health and Experiences
Image Credit: Flickr user Jim Nix

Tennessee might be recognized for great barbecue and country music, but the state is in the midst of a health crisis that isn’t nearly as well-known. A whopping 13% of adults in Tennessee have diabetes, and the problem is only getting worse.

Worst Diabetes State #1. West Virginia (14.1% of adults)

Worst Diabetes West Virginia Health and Experiences
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/ForestWander

West Virginia is the worst U.S. state in regards to the diabetes epidemic. Almost 1 in 7 adults living in West Virginia have diabetes. If you are in West Virginia, you are in the left lane of the 7th leading cause of death in the United States.

The good news is that practically all Americans can prevent type 2 diabetes from happening before it starts. The disease can be stopped if you make the decision to exercise more often, eat nutritious food, avoid smoking, and control how much sugar you take.

By developing some basic healthy habits and being more active – you can help to stop the deadly diabetes epidemic that’s destroying the United States. Regardless of whether you live in Pennsylvania, Louisiana, or West Virginia – you now have the knowledge to prevent diabetes from harming your life.

Kasey Taylor (Health and Experiences)