Colorado is thinnest state, but still almost 20 percent obese

Obesity is rising--what can be done?

Obesity rose in 16 states in 2010, indicated the annual report from the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Furthermore, obesity rates in 12 states are now above 30 percent.

Mississippi was deemed the fattest state, with an adult obesity rate of 34.4 percent, while Colorado is the least obese, at 19.8 percent. Colorado is also the only state having an adult obesity rate below 20 percent, the report indicated. But, still one in five residents of Colorado is at increased risk for heart disease and diabetes.

"Today, the state with the lowest adult obesity rate would have had the highest rate in 1995," Jeff Levi, executive director of the Trust for America's Health pointed out, indicating that people in the U.S. are not only eating more, they are also eating less nutritious food, while activity levels have fallen.

"If we're going to reverse the obesity trends, willpower alone won't do it. We're going to have to make healthier choices easier for Americans," Levi said.

Some groups are insisting that behavioral initiatives are not going far enough, however, and are calling for more strict measures, such as banning toys in kids’ meals at fast food restaurants (Center for Science in the Public Interest) and banning junk food ads aimed at children (American Academy of Pediatrics). However, the food industry is fighting regulation, and are calling for “personal responsibility” by consumers.

Seven states, the report said, have doubled obesity rates, while 10 have doubled rates of diabetes. Rates have risen most quickly in Oklahoma, Alabama and Tennessee; Colorado, Connecticut and Washington D.C. had the slowest rates of increase.

Overall, obesity rates increased most quickly in adults in racial and minority groups; lower education groups; and lower income brackets. According to the report:

  • Adult obesity rates for Blacks topped 40 percent in 15 states, 35 percent in 35 states, and 30 percent in 42 states and D.C.
  • Rates of adult obesity among Latinos were above 35 percent in four states (Mississippi, North Dakota, South Carolina, and Texas) and at least 30 percent in 23 states.
  • Meanwhile, rates of adult obesity for Whites topped 30 percent in just four states (Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, and West Virginia) and no state had a rate higher than 32.1 percent.
  • Nearly 33 percent of adults who did not graduate high school are obese, compared with 21.5 percent of those who graduated from college or technical college.

The full report, "F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2011," is available online.

Image: Wikimedia Commons