Obesity rates higher in 16 states

by Eric Schroeder
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WASHINGTON — Adult obesity rates increased in 16 states in 2010 and did not decrease in any state, according to “F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2011.”

“Today, the state with the lowest obesity rate would have had the highest rate in 1995,” said Jeff Levi, executive director of the Trust for America’s Health, the organization that produced the report, which is now in its eighth year of publication. “There was a clear tipping point in our national weight gain over the last 20 years, and we can’t afford to ignore the impact obesity has on our health and corresponding health care spending.”

The report, which covered all 50 states and the District of Columbia, found 6 states experienced an increase in obesity rates for the second year in a row and 5 states for a third year in a row.

For the second year in a row, the rate of adult obesity exceeded 25% in 38 states. But the rate of obesity exceeded 30% in 12 states in 2010, up from 8 states in 2009. As recently as 1991, no state had an obesity rate of more than 20%. In 1980, the national average of obese adults was 15%.

For adult obesity rates, Mississippi once again fared the worst, at 34.4%, the seventh consecutive year it has topped the list. Other states exceeding the 30% rate were Alabama (32.3%), West Virginia (32.2%), Tennessee (31.9%), Louisiana (31.6%), Kentucky (31.5%), Oklahoma (31.4%), South Carolina (30.9%), Arkansas (30.6%), Michigan (30.5%), Missouri (30.3%) and Texas (30.1%).

Colorado once again was the best, coming in at 19.8%, and remained the only state with a rate below 20%.
Nine of the 10 states with the highest obesity rates were in the South (Michigan was the exception at 30.5%), while northwestern and western states continued to have the lowest obesity rates.

For the first time the report examined how the obesity epidemic has grown over the past two decades. Twenty years ago, no state had an obesity rate above 15%. Today, 38 have obesity rates over 25%, and just one has a rate lower than 20%. Since 1995, when data was available for every state, obesity rates have doubled in seven states and increased by at least 90% in 10 others. Twenty-one more states saw obesity rates increase by at least 80%. Obesity rates have grown fastest in Oklahoma (18.5%), Alabama (16.5%) and Tennessee (15.6%), and slowest in Washington, D.C. (9%), Colorado (9.2%) and Connecticut (10%), the report noted.

There was no new data issued on childhood and adolescent obesity rate and trends, but according to 2010 edition of the “F as in Fat” report more than one-third of children ages 10 to 17 either are obese (16.4%) or overweight (18.2%), according to the survey. Mississippi was the highest in terms of obese children ages 10 to 17, with a rate of 21.9%. The next closest states were Georgia, at 21.3%, and Kentucky, at 21%. The two states with the lowest childhood obesity rates were Oregon, at 9.6%, and Wyoming, at 10.2%.
The full report is available at www.healthyamericans.org.

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