July 2, 2009

American Obesity Continues To Rise

Obesity rates among Americans have increased again over the past year in 23 states, according to a new annual report.

The Trust for America's Health issued the report alongside the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on Wednesday.

The groups found that obesity rates among adults in America are now more than 25 percent in 31 states, and more than 20 percent in 49 states, along with Washington, D.C.

In 1991, no state had an obesity rate of more than 20 percent, and in 1980 the average for adult obesity was 15 percent.

The only state to be listed at less than 20 percent obesity was Colorado, with 18.7 percent, compared to 18.4 percent at last year's check-up.

Mississippi ranked the highest overall for the fifth consecutive year with an adult obesity rate of 32.5 percent as well as the highest rate of obesity among children "“ ages 10 to 17 "“ with 44.4 percent.

"Eight of the 10 states with the highest rates of obese and overweight children are in the South. Childhood obesity rates have more than tripled since 1980," according to the report, titled "F as in Fat".

Researchers also found that the economic crisis could worsen the national obesity epidemic because it could translate into an increase in the price of nutritious foods, causing families to become more stressed and eat less healthy meals.

Additionally, the report noted that obesity is weighing the US health care system down and causing costs to increase drastically.

"Our health care costs have grown along with our waist lines," said Jeff Levi, executive director of Trust for America's Health,

"The obesity epidemic is a big contributor to the skyrocketing health care costs in the United States. How are we going to compete with the rest of the world if our economy and workforce are weighed down by bad health?"

TFAH issued a report showing that the generation of "baby boomers" has a higher rate of obesity across the board, when compared to previous generations.

"As the Baby Boomer generation ages, obesity-related costs to Medicare and Medicaid are likely to grow significantly because of the large number of people in this population and its high rate of obesity. And, as Baby Boomers become Medicare-eligible, the percentage of obese adults age 65 and older could increase significantly. Estimates of the increase in percentage of obese adults range from 5.2 percent in New York to 16.3 percent in Alabama," said the report.

"It's not going to be solved in the doctor's office but in the community, where we change norms," Levi said.


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