Priority Area: Wellness and Obesity

Success Measure:
more physically active adults by 2030

Louisiana Rankings:
Exercise: 42nd up from 43rd in 2020
Physical Inactivity: 44th up from 47th in 2020
GOAL: Reduce obesity by increasing access to nutritious foods, providing education on healthy eating and expanding access to safe physical activity in underserved communities.

Why does this matter?
Adults who have obesity are more likely to have decreased quality of life and increased risk of developing serious health conditions.

Obesity is a complex health condition. Contributing factors to obesity include the social and physical environment, genetics, prenatal and early life influences, and behaviors such as poor diet and physical inactivity.

Adults who have obesity are more likely to have decreased quality of life and increased risk of developing serious health conditions, such as hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke, sleep apnea and breathing problems, some cancers and mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. Weight stigma, or discrimination and stereotyping based on an individual’s weight, may also negatively influence psychological and physical health. 

Financial Impact: The costs associated with obesity and obesity-related health problems are staggering. One study estimated the medical costs of obesity to be $342.2 billion (in 2013 dollars). Beyond direct medical costs, the indirect costs of decreased productivity tied to obesity are estimated at $8.65 billion per year among American workers. (AHR)

Costs associated with physical inactivity account for more than 11% of total healthcare expenditures and are estimated at $117 billion annually. (Science Direct)
LA Rate
US Rate
Obesity is a weight categorized as a BMI of 30 or higher based a person’s height and weight. 45.4% of the population of Louisiana ages 45-64 has a body mass index of 30.0 or higher (AHR).

Success Measures

Physical Inactivity

2020 Baseline
2021 Actual
2022 Actual
2030 Target


2020 Baseline
2021 Actual
2022 Actual
2030 Target
In Louisiana...
over 36% of Louisianians are obese (2021). AHR
Who is affected most?

The prevalence of obesity among adults is higher among:

compared with women
Adults ages 45-64
compared with adults ages 18-44 and 65 and older
Hawaiian/Pacific Islander and Black adults
compared to Asian adults
Adults with less than a college education
compared with college graduates
Adults with annual household incomes less then $25,000
compared with those with incomes of $75,000 or more
Employees with sedentary or shift work jobs
compared with
Students or other consumers
impacted by organization's culture

Measures of Obesity, America's Health Rankings (AHR)

What we should know and do to drive change:

Issue specific to Nutrition
LA Rate: 1 in 5 children and 1 in 3 adults struggle with obesity
  • 6.2% of Louisianians consume two or more fruits and three or more vegetables daily
  • Adult seating less than one serving of fruit per day: 47.2% 
  • Adults eating less than one serving of vegetables per day: 25.6%
  • High school students eating less than one serving of fruit per day: 53.1%
  • High school students eating less than one serving of vegetables per day: 55.1%
US Rate: 7.4% people in the US who consume two or more fruits and three or more vegetables a day
Who is affected most/disparities?
Fair worse:
  • Adults ages 18-44 compared with those ages 65 and older
  • Hawaiian/Pacific Islander and Asian adults, as well asadults who identify as other race, compared with Hispanic adults 
  • Adults with lower educational attainment
  • Employees with sedentary jobs, shift work, night shift
  • Healthcare services and direct patient care (nursing, MA, and orderlies)
  • Students
  • Other consumers impacted by organization’s culture
Fair better:
  • Adults with an annual household income of $75,000 or more compared with those with lower incomes
  • Adults living in metropolitan areas compared with those in non-metropolitan areas
Nutrition in my community
Louisiana is the #3 state where people consume the least fruits and vegetables. (Stacker)
Fruit and vegetable consumption by state.
Percentage of adults who reported consuming two or more fruits and three or more vegetables daily. Click the map below to be directed to the America’s Health Rankings interactive map.
Healthy snacking and nutrition are essential to promoting wellness and providing the best nutrients for health, energy, and productivity. With more than 36% of Louisiana residents considered obese, accessibility to nutritious food options that are low in calories, fat, sugar and sodium can change help to improve overall health. (Well-Ahead Louisiana)
Establish a comprehensive, user-friendly, online resource that provides public access to statewide data related to food security, nutrition programing, and diet-rated illness.
  • Support a resource for data, connectivity to resources, and best practices related toLouisiana’s food system and food access
  • Maintain up-to-date statewide data annually by establishing partner agreements with state agencies who collect pertinent data
  • Promote a resource to increase awareness to the public of its availability
  • Support the promotion of Hunger Action Month in September
  • Conduct a recurring food security survey
  • Identify Louisiana-specific food insecurity data to inform outreach, programs, and policy development
  • Explore ways to address hunger and identify risk factors within college and university communities and then convene partners to find solutions
Every region should have a local Hunger Action Coalition to combat food insecurity and hunger in their local communities.
  • Support the development of Hunger ActionCoalitions at the local level and initiate successful collaborations, goals and activities
  • Example: Feed Virginia
For employee health, by incorporating healthy foods into work vending machines, workplaces can ensure employee health, nutrition, and productivity. To meet this benchmark, at least 50% of snacks and beverages provided to employees—including each vending machine—must meet one of the approved healthy vending guidelines provided at these links:
Current state of the policy?
Financially, the potential economic benefit of improved healthy eating in the U.S. has been estimated at $114.5 billion (2012 dollars) per year in medical savings, increased productivity, and the value of prolonged life.

Providing food directly can be more effective
when providing allowances for healthy foods. Making healthy vending machine options less expensive increased employee purchases.
Nutritious food available at work: A lack of consumption of fruits, whole grains, and over-consumption of sodium, accounted for more than 50% of deaths and 66% of Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs)attributable to diets in 2017.

Dietary improvements to workers’ meals were an effective way to improve employee health. Where the main nutrition challenge was overweight/obesity and associated health conditions, the availability of healthy food at work helped lower the risk of cardiovascular problems.  

Food labeling on food available at work:
Food packaging influences the food workers consume. Two studies found that providing food labelling made workers more likely to choose lower calorie options.However, another study did not find robust changes in the caloric content of food workers bought after calorie labeling was introduced at several worksites; this showed that it is important to improve this approach through larger labels, amongst other things. 

In one program, a traffic light system for labelling healthy options guided workers towards healthier choices and resulted in improvements in their overall diets.A common learning from most studies is that it is important to provide information to workers to ensure that they accept and endorse changes before and during the program—this makes healthy food at work programs more acceptable to workers. 
Issue specific to Physical Inactivity
  • 29% of adults in Louisiana reported doing no physical activity or exercise other than their regular job in the past 30 days (AHR)
  • The CDC has deemed Louisiana the most unfit state (LA)
  • CDC numbers show 30% of Louisianans are considered physically inactive – twice the national average (LSU)
  • Only 19.7%of Louisiana adults met the federal physical activity guidelines (150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity and two days of muscle strengthening per week) in the past 30 days (AHR)
Who is affected most?
  • Women compared with men
  • Adults ages 65 and older compared with adults younger than 65
  • Hispanic, Black and AmericanIndian/Alaska Native adults compared with Asian adults, who have the lowest prevalence
  • Adults with less than a high school education, who have a prevalence 3 times higher than college graduates
  • Adults with an annual household income less than $25,000, who have a prevalence nearly 3 times higher than those with an income of $75,000 or more
  • Adults living in non-metropolitan areas compared with those in metropolitan areas
  • Implementing a state-wide awareness and education campaign will increase people’s physical activity 
  • Use of digital apps and platforms increases physical activity
  • New physical activity events increase accessibility to exercise
Current state of the policy
Awareness and education campaigns:
  • To achieve behavior change, mass-media is an important component of larger, multilevel, and multicomponent strategies that should be coordinated and aligned at local- and national-levels. These levels should be sustained, monitored, and resourced. Media should be targeted and tailored to specific population sub-groups to better address socioeconomic inequalities (NIH)
  • Evaluation of the design of physical activity mass media campaigns is likely to enhance the success of campaigns to increase awareness and sustained physical activity behavior change (NIH)
  • Knowledge and awareness of thePhysical Activity Guidelines: Adults, parents, teens, and children prefer messages that reflect diverse examples of activities. They generally dislike"one-size-fits-all" recommendations and prefer messages that emphasize specific health benefits versus generic messages about overall health (NIH)
Digital apps and platforms:
  • Fitbit-based interventions found a statistically significant increase in daily step count, moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, and a significant decrease in weight. The use of Fitbit devices has the potential to promote healthy lifestyles in terms of physical activity and weight. Fitbit devices may be useful to health professionals for patient monitoring and support (NIH)
  • Mobile Health app interventions may be associated with decreases in sedentary time, increases in physical activity, and increases in fitness (NIH)
New fitness events:
  • Mass participation events have potential to engage low-active people (NIH)
  • Organized health-promoting community events attract non-walkers/runners and groups hard to engage in physical activity (NIH)
  • These events are attractive to non-runners, with women, older adults and overweight people. Fitness improvements and perceived benefits indicate the effectiveness as a cost-effective, community-based intervention for improving public health (NIH)
  • Participation rates have remained high since 2013. Gaining abetter understanding of the reasons why these events grew so quickly may be useful for other physical activity movements, while further analysis of the relatively lower participation rates in areas with higher socioeconomic deprivation is important for developing initiatives to encourage physical activity in these communities (NIH)
Inactivity rate in my community
PLACES, a collaboration between CDC, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the CDC Foundation, provides health data for small areas across the country. This allows local health departments and jurisdictions, regardless of population size and rurality, to better understand the burden and geographic distribution of health measures in their areas and assist them in planning public health interventions.

PLACES provides model-based, population-level analysis and community estimates of health measures to all counties, places(incorporated and census designated places), census tracts, and ZIP CodeTabulation Areas (ZCTAs) across the United States. Learn more about PLACES.

Click the map below to be directed to the CDC heat map and navigate to Physical Inactivity.
Download our Healthy State Fact Sheet on Wellness & Obesity