Report: Adult obesity rates still 'far too high'

by Eric Schroeder
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WASHINGTON — Adult obesity rates remain high, according to “The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America,” a report from the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). The report, which for the past 10 years has carried the tagline “F as in Fat,” has been renamed to reflect the fact that the “F” “no longer stands for failure,” the report’s authors said.


The annual report found that adult obesity rates increased in Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, New Jersey, Tennessee and Wyoming during 2013. Rates of obesity now exceed 35 percent for the first time in two states, are at or above 30 percent in 20 states and are not below 21 percent in any.

By comparison, during 2012, the rate of adult obesity exceeded 30 percent in 13 states, while 41 states had rates of at least 25 percent. Every state was above 20 percent during 2012.

As recently as 1991, no state had an obesity rate of more than 20 percent, and in 2000 no state was above 25 percent. In 1980, the national average of obese adults was 15 percent.

After a one-year hiatus from the top of the list, Mississippi returned to the top spot among worst rated states for adult obesity. At 35.1 percent, Mississippi was the worst rated state for the ninth time in 10 years. Tied with Mississippi at the top was West Virginia, also at 35.1 percent. Other states exceeding the 30 percent rate were Arkansas (34.6 percent), Tennessee (33.7 percent), Kentucky (33.2 percent), Louisiana (33.1 percent), Oklahoma (32.5 percent), Alabama (32.4 percent), Indiana (31.8 percent), South Carolina (31.7 percent), Michigan (31.5 percent), Iowa (31.3 percent), Delaware (31.1 percent), North Dakota (31 percent), Texas (30.9 percent), Missouri (30.4 percent), Ohio (30.4 percent), Georgia (30.3 percent), Kansas (30 percent) and Pennsylvania (30 percent).

Colorado once again was the best, coming in at 21.3 percent, which was up from 20.5 percent in 2012 and compared with 20.7 percent in 2011 and 19.8 percent in 2010, when Colorado was the only state with a rate below 20 percent. Hawaii was the only other state below 22 percent, at 21.8 percent.

“Obesity in America is at a critical juncture,” said Jeffrey Levi, Ph.D., executive director of TFAH. “Obesity rates are unacceptably high, and the disparities in rates are profoundly troubling. We need to intensify prevention efforts starting in early childhood, and do a better job of implementing effective policies and programs in all communities — so every American has the greatest opportunity to have a healthy weight and live a healthy life.”

Other key findings from report include:

  • Obesity rates remain higher among black and Latino communities than among whites.
  • Adult obesity rates for blacks were at or above 40 percent in 11 states, 35 percent in 29 states and 30 percent in 41 states.
  • Rates of adult obesity among Latinos exceeded 35 percent in 5 states and 30 percent in 23 states.
  • Among whites, adult obesity rates topped 30 percent in 10 states.
  • Nine out of the 10 states with the highest obesity rates were in the South.
  • Baby Boomers (45-to 64-year-olds) have the highest obesity rates of any age group — topping 35 percent in 17 states and 30 percent in 41 states.

The full report is available at www.healthyamericans.org.

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