How Obesity Threatens Our Future

Since 2006, Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation have released an annual report on obesity.  This year’s report, F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2011 (available as a PDF download), unveils some downright alarming statistics.

Some Major Findings:

Adult Obesity Rates and Trends (2008-2010)

  •  Adult obesity rates rose in 16 states over the past year. No state had a decrease.
  •  Obesity rates exceed 25% in more than two-thirds of states (38 states).
  •  Mississippi had the highest rate of obesity at 34.4%; Colorado the lowest at 19.8% — the only state with a rate below 20%.
  •  Obesity and obesity-related diseases (like diabetes and hypertension) remain the highest in the South. Nine of the 10 states with the highest rates of diabetes and physical inactivity are in the South as well the 10 states with the highest rates of hypertension. Northeastern and Western states have the lowest rates of obesity.
  •  In the past year adult diabetes rates increased in 11 states and Washington, D.C.; more than 10% of adults in eight states now have type 2 diabetes.
  •  Obesity increased for men in nine states and for women in ten states, and decreased for women in one state (Nevada).
  •  People who didn’t graduate from high school have the highest rates of obesity (32.8%). High school graduates who didn’t go to college or technical school have the second highest obesity rate (30.4%).  People who went to college/technical school had an obesity rate of 29.6%; graduates from college/technical school had the lowest obesity rate, 21.5%.
  •  Households with an income less than $15,000 have a 33.8% obesity rate; households with an income above $50,000 have a 24.6% obesity rate.

Changes in Adult Obesity, Overweight, Diabetes, and Hypertension Over Time

  • Twenty years ago no state had an obesity rate above 15%.
  •  Twenty years ago the state with the highest combined obesity and overweight rate was 49%; now the lowest rate is 54.8%; 44 states are above 60%.
  •  Twenty years ago, 37 states had hypertension rates over 20%; now every state is over 20%; nine are over 30%.
  •  Over the past 15 years seven states have doubled their obesity rates; 10 states nearly doubled theirs with increases of at least 90%; 22 more states saw their  obesity rates increase by at least 80%.
  •  Since 1995 obesity rates have grown the fastest in Oklahoma, Alabama, and Tennessee and the slowest in Washington, D.C., Colorado, and Connecticut.
  •  Ten years ago there weren’t any states with an obesity rate above 24%; now 43 states have higher obesity rates than the state that was the highest in 2000.

Top Recommendations

“The report includes recommendations for policies to help leverage change quickly and efficiently, by providing individuals and families with the resources and opportunities to make healthier choices in their daily lives. For instance, the report calls for the strategic implementation of the ACA, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, and other federal and state policy changes to help prevent and control obesity in America.”

Please take notice.  To see more recommendations and to read the full report click here.

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