Every area of North Dakota has gained weight, according to a recent study, when compared to the average weight of citizens of the state in 2012.

A comprehensive study by strength training site BarBend.com, in conjunction with County Health Rankings, compared every state and county’s rates of obesity in 2012 to newly released figures in 2022. Unfortunately, the study revealed an unexpected huge surge in weight gain across the USA in the past decade. The situation is especially serious in North Dakota, where every county in the state reported at least a 1% increase in obesity rates.

The counties recording the most and least weight gain in North Dakota are as follows:

Most Gain

#1: Renville County: 13% more obese than reported in 2012

#2: LaMoure: 11% more obese

#3: Hettinger: 11% more obese

#4: Barnes: 11% more obese

#5: Stark: 9% more obese

Least Gain

#1: Grant County: 1% more obese than reported in 2012

#2: Logan County: 1% more obese

#3: Bottineau County: 2% more obese

#4: McHenry County: 2% more obese

#5: Steele County: 3% more obese

A few of our own local areas have some pretty steep rates of increase, too — and while they’re not as bad as the top five, there’s still cause for alarm when our rates tend to be some of the largest overall.

Burleigh County: 7% more obese than reported in 2012

Morton County: 5% more obese than reported in 2012

Ward County: 8% more obese than reported in 2012

Williams County: 8% more obese than reported in 2012

This trend of weight gain hasn’t just increased across North Dakota — while our case is more severe than many other states, obesity rates and weight increases have been reported all across the USA. The top five states that have fared the best are either stagnant or have only experienced mild growth, with most still reporting 1-2% increases. The states with the lowest amounts of weight increase are as follows:

#1: Florida: Stagnant (0% increase or decrease in weight gain from 2012)

#2: Massachusetts: 1% more obese

#3: New Jersey: 1% more obese

#4: Washington: 1% more obese

#5: California: 2% more obese

In contrast, here are the five states that have experienced the most weight gain, including North Dakota:

#1: New Mexico: 8% more obese than reported in 2012

#2: West Virginia: 7% more obese

#3: Arizona: 7: more obese

#4: North Dakota: 6% more obese

#5: Kansas: 6% more obese

Incidentally, while weight gain is up in all of North Dakota, counties in its sister state have shown monumental decreases in obesity and weight levels. Four out of the five counties across the US with the largest declines in weight gain are in South Dakota, with Shannon County in SD reporting a 10% drop over the decade.

#1: Shannon, SD: 10% less obese than reported in 2012

#2: Prince of Wales-Outer Ketchikan, AK: 8% less obese

#3: Edmunds, SD: 5% less obese

#4: Hyde, SD: 5% less obese

#5: Roberts, SD: 5% less obese

“The data clearly shows that, despite the warnings from public health officials, our lifestyles are becoming more sedentary and as a nation, we are becoming more obese,” said Max Whiteside of BarBend in a press statement. “Obesity increases the risk of developing many diseases, and this is a crisis which is trending in the wrong direction.” 

BarBend’s complete study of all counties in North Dakota can be found on this spreadsheet. Other information reported by County Health Rankings can be found on their own website.