Obesity rates climb in 37 states

by Eric Schroeder
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WASHINGTON — Adult obesity rates increased in a mind-boggling 37 states during the past year, up from 31 states during the previous year, according to the report "F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies are Failing in America, 2007."

"America’s future depends on the health of our country," said Jeff Levi, Ph.D., executive director of the Trust for America’s Health, the organization that produced the report. "The obesity epidemic is lowering our productivity and dramatically increasing our health care costs. Our analysis shows that we’re not treating the obesity epidemic with the urgency it deserves."

The report, which covered all 50 states and the District of Columbia, found 24 states experienced an increase in obesity rates for the second year in a row and 19 states for a third year in a row. No states decreased.

The rate of adult obesity now exceeds 25% in 28 states, which is an increase from 19 states last year, 14 states in 2006 and 9 in 2005. As recently as 1991, no states had obesity rates of more than 20%. In 1980, the national average of obese adults was 15%.

For adult obesity rates, Mississippi once again fared the worse as it came in at 31.7%. In 2007, Mississippi was the first state to top 30%, but in the most recent year it was joined by West Virginia (30.6%) and Alabama (30.1%). Colorado once again was the best coming in at 18.4%. Eleven of the 15 states with the highest obesity rates were in the South, while Northwestern and Western states continued to have the lowest obesity rates.

The report also found the rate of type 2 diabetes, a disease typically associated with obesity, grew in 26 states last year. Four states now have diabetes rates in excess of 10%, the report said, and all 10 states with the highest rates of diabetes and hypertension are in the South.

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