Obesity rates still rising in many states

July 7, 2011 5:26:52 PM PDT
Obesity rates are on the rise in the United States, but now a new report sheds some new light at a national weight problem that's reaching crisis proportions.

The title of the report is "F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future." Ten years ago, the number of states with an obesity rate of 24 percent was zero.

These days, there are 43 states that have reached the rate, including California. Two-thirds of adults and nearly one-third of children are obese or overweight according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Twenty-four percent, or one in four, of California's adults are obese. In 1995, that rate was lower. According to the CDC, only 15 percent of California adults were obese then.

California ranks 41st in the nation for obesity.

In Mississippi, 34.4 percent of people are obese or overweight. Mississippi ranks number one among states with an obese population.

Colorado, on the other hand, had the lowest rate, with 19.8 percent of the obesity population, but 16 years ago, that number would have been the highest in the country.

"Twelve states now have obesity rates of over 30 percent," said Jeff Levi with Trust for America's Health, the non-profit organization that compiled the data.

Our sedentary lifestyle is partly to blame for these increased rates.

"Our jobs have changed so we are more computerized," said nutrition consultant Jane Tien with the California Pacific Medical Center.

Through the years, the food industry has increased portion sizes and that, nutrition experts say, has also contributed to the problem.

"It's very enticing, especially in these hard economic times," said Tien. "People want to spend less and get more."

The report also says income and education matter: Those who earned less money were more likely to be obese, and those who didn't graduate from high school were also more likely to be obese. According to report, nearly one-third of Americans who did not graduate from high school are obese, compared with 21 percent of those who graduated from college.

Obesity also increases the risk for diabetes and heart disease. In 1995, California had a diabetes rate of 4.9 percent; now, the same rate is 8.7 percent.

"If we don't reverse the obesity epidemic, the current generation of young people could be the first in the U.S. to live sicker and die younger than their parents' generation."

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation helped fund the report. The goal of the foundation is to reverse obesity, specifically childhood obesity, by 2015. The report says Oregon has the lowest rate of obesity, with California's rate at 15 percent.

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