F as in Fat

Adult obesity rates increased in 28 states in the past year, and declined only in the District of Columbia.

According to F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2010, a report from the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, more than two-thirds of states (38) have adult obesity rates above 25%. In 1991, no state had an obesity rate above 20%.

10-out-of-the-11 states with the highest rates of obesity were in the South, with Mississippi weighing in with the highest rates for all adults (33.8%) for the sixth year in a row.

Obesity is one of the biggest public health challenges the country has ever faced, and troubling disparities exist based on race, ethnicity, region and income,” stated Jeffrey Levi, executive director of Trust For America’s Health.

Additional key findings included:

  • Adult obesity rates for African-Americans topped 40% in nine states, 35% in 34 states, and 30% in 43 states and D.C.
  • Rates of adult obesity for Latinos were above 35% in two states (North Dakota and Tennessee), and at 30% and above in 19 states
  • 10 of the 11 states with the highest rates of diabetes are in the South, as are the 10 states with the highest rates of hypertension
  • The number of states where adult obesity rates exceeded 30% doubled in the past year, from four to eight — Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and West Virginia
  • Northeastern and western states had the lowest adult obesity rates — Colorado remained the lowest at 19.1%.

The numbers speak for themselves. Adult obesity rates continue to rise in the United States. And obesity rates continue to be significantly higher among specific ethnic and racial groups, particularly non-Hispanic black girls and Hispanic boys. But there are encouraging signs. This year’s F as in Fat report offers ample evidence that individuals, families, government, the business community, educators, health care providers are increasingly willing to invest time, energy and resources to solve the obesity crisis.

Meantime, it is up to all of us to take the momentum around obesity, health, disease prevention and wellness and carry it forward.

SRxA’s Word on Health invites you to weigh in on this hefty issue.