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Adult Obesity Rates for Blacks Topped 40 Percent in 15 States; Whites Topped 30 Percent in Four

Twelve states now have obesity rates above 30 percent. Four years ago, only one state was above 30 percent.

Adult obesity rates increased in 16 states in the past year and did not decline in any state, according to F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2011, a report from Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

The obesity epidemic continues to be most dramatic in the South, which includes nine of the 10 states with the highest adult obesity rates. States in the Northeast and West tend to have lower rates. Mississippi maintained the highest adult obesity rate for the seventh year in a row, and Colorado has the lowest obesity rate and is the only state with a rate under 20 percent.

This year, for the first time, the report examined how the obesity epidemic has grown over the past two decades. Twenty years ago, no state had an obesity rate above 15 percent. Today, more than two out of three states, 38 total, have obesity rates over 25 percent, and just one has a rate lower than 20 percent. Since 1995, when data was available for every state, obesity rates have doubled in seven states and increased by at least 90 percent in 10 others.

Since 1995, diabetes rates have doubled in eight states

Obesity rates have grown fastest in Oklahoma, Alabama, and Tennessee, and slowest in Washington, D.C., Colorado, and Connecticut.

“Today, the state with the lowest obesity rate would have had the highest rate in 1995,” said Jeff Levi, Ph.D., executive director of TFAH. “There was a clear tipping point in our national weight gain over the last twenty years, and we can’t afford to ignore the impact obesity has on our health and corresponding health care spending.”

Obesity has long been associated with other severe health problems, including diabetes and high blood pressure. New data in the report show how rates of both also have risen dramatically over the last two decades.

Since 1995, diabetes rates have doubled in eight states. Then, only four states had diabetes rates above 6 percent. Now, 43 states have diabetes rates over 7 percent, and 32 have rates above 8 percent. Twenty years ago, 37 states had hypertension rates over 20 percent. Now, every state is over 20 percent, with nine over 30 percent.

Racial and ethnic minority adults, and those with less education or who make less money, continue to have the highest overall obesity rates:

  • 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.
  • More than 33 percent of adults who earn less than $15,000 per year were obese, compared with 24.6 percent of those who earn at least $50,000 per year.

“The information in this report should spur us all – individuals and policymakers alike – to redouble our efforts to reverse this debilitating and costly epidemic,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A, RWJF president and CEO. “Changing policies is an important way to provide children and families with vital resources and opportunities to make healthier choices easier in their day-to-day lives.”

This article was made courtesy of Trust for America’s Health

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  • I noticed that here in California that used to be the fitness state is getting larger and larger with obesity. I work in the medical field and I have patients at a very very young age of 5 years old who are obese. When I date almost every man tells me i’m “tiny” and I’m 5ft 3 and 126 lbs which is petite but not tiny and I do have fat hanging on my arms that should not really be there. My normal weight is actually or should be around 115. It seems everyone is so used to heavy or thick people that something is wrong with me because im small, well I say I’m fit. I do lift weights. It’s important to feel good in your skin no matter what size but it is also important to get at least some fitness in our lives. As mentioned in the ariticle for health reasons more than just appearance. I remember when I gained weight once and got up to only 135lbs my blood pressure shot up sky high. Going out dancing every other week, lifting weights, some cardio kick boxing once a week and a power walk once a week got me back in shape. If some one struggle to actually work out because it’s not their thing, go dancing on a regular basis. Hit the club on saturday night and dance from 10p.m when you get there until they close. You dont need a dance partner just go dance like no one is watching.


    12:51 am

  • Adult Obesity Rates for Blacks Topped 40% in 15 States; Whites Topped 30% in Four: via @AddThis @stefanpinto

  • Great post! I’m looking into the Canadian stats.


    1:57 am

  • Unfortunately, it’s due to culture. When I first changed my diet shortly after coming to Cali, my parents sat me down and asked me if I was also smoking marijuana? Recently, I lost 18 pounds bringing me back down to my goal weight and when I shared my secrets with a group of women, of all races, mind you, I was told how they couldn’t give up this or let go of that. My cousins told me I was going to disappear into nothing. LOL!


    9:25 pm

  • wow, great article. The first lady has a great initiative, it needs to start with children, and better choices


    2:23 pm

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