The Trust for American Health recently released a report on obesity showing an increase over the last year in 28 states, with a decline only in the District of Columbia.
“Obesity is one of the biggest public health challenges the country has ever faced, and troubling disparities exist based on race, ethnicity, region, and income,” said Jeffrey Levi, PhD, executive director of TFAH. Ten of the eleven most obese states are located in the South. The state with highest rate of obesity is Mississippi. Mississippi has been in the number one position for six years in a row. The state with lowest adult obesity rate is Colorado with 19.1 percent. The number of states with high adult obesity rates (30% or more) increased from four to eight. More than two thirds of all states have adult obesity rates over 25 percent. No state had an adult obesity rate above 20 percent in 1991.
Child obesity is also mentioned in the report. The total number of children and adolescents who are obese referenced in the document is 12 million or more. Oregon has the lowest rate of childhood and adolescent obesity at 9.6 percent. Mississippi has the highest at 21.9. The age range for those statistics is 10-17. One third of that population segment is obese. Utah has the lowest rate of children exercising vigorously once a day, at 17.6%. North Carolina had the largest percentage in that category at 38.5%.
While these numbers are troubling to consider, the impact of obesity on millions of people is even more so. According to the report one in three adult Americans has some form of heart disease, and 80 million have type 2 diabetes or are pre-diabetic. It was also reported that 12 states showed an increase in the number of adults saying they engage in no physical activity.
So why did obesity increase in so many states? The report identifies the relationship between income and education levels with increased obesity. The less income and education an American has, the more likely it is they will be obese, says the report. Other factors include regional cultural issues, exercise levels, and family of origin issues. Clearly the overall picture is very complex and the contributing factors require more research, and discussion.
It is noted that a variety of government programs at the federal and state levels have been put into place. However, the effectiveness of those efforts is still being debated.
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