You guys are still eating too many french fries!
In the past year adult obesity rates have continued to climb. Two advocacy groups said on Wednesday, 23 US states reported that their citizens are fatter now than they were a year ago. In fact, two-thirds of American adults are either overweight or obese.
No states reported a decrease in obesity.
Affecting Health Care Reform
Executive director of Trust for America’s Health, Jeff Levi reportedly said, “Our health care costs have grown along with our waist lines,” as part of a warning that the US obesity epidemic could interfere with efforts by lawmakers to reform the nation’s health system.
Levi later said in a statement:
“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?”
The report, issued by Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, also calls for a national strategy to combat obesity, which causes heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
The US government has set a target of reducing obesity rates in all 50 states to 15% by next year, but the report says this effort is virtually guaranteed to fail. We have to make an effort to reduce our obesity rates, if not for our health then for our national health care needs.
Which States are the Fattest?
The annual ranking of obesity rates in US states determined that Mississippi continues to top the list as the state with the fattest population. Nearly a third of adults living in Mississippi are considered obese. Mississippi has topped the list for the past five years.
According to the report, West Virginia, Alabama, and Tennessee are the three other state that now have obesity rates above 30 percent.
Only one state has an adult obesity rate below 20% – Colorado. Yet, in 1991, no state had an adult obesity rate above 20%. In 1980 the national average for adult obesity was a mere 15%!
Childhood Obesity Continues
Mississippi once again tops the charts with a 44.4% childhood obesity rate in kids age 10-17.
On a slightly positive note, obesity rates for US children have held steady, albeit at still alarmingly high levels. Minnesota and Utah had the lowest rate at 23.1%.
Still, 30 US states reported the percentage of obese or overweight children above 30 percent.
As I mentioned in an older post about childhood obesity, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported last year that the US childhood obesity epidemic has leveled off this decade. Unfortunately, after childhood obesity rates surged for about 20 years, a worrisome number of young people still remain obese and continue to risk serious health problems.
The Effects of a Down Economy
The current US economic crisis could worsen the obesity epidemic by driving up food prices, particularly for nutritious foods, the TFHA report warns. In addition, the report blames increased rates of stress, anxiety, and depression for fueling unhealthy living.
A recent analysis found that the Baby Boomer generation has a higher rate of obesity compared with previous generations, which suggests that the percentage of obese adults aged 65 and older could soon increase significantly.
Obesity is a Global Threat
Childhood and adult obesity has emerged as a growing problem not only in the United States but in many countries around the world.
Obese children have a high risk of developing cardiovascular diseases including high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Overweight kids also risk developing type 2 diabetes, which sets in after adulthood, and they also are at higher risk of developing asthma.
Fat kids are much more likely to be obese in adulthood, when they face the many health problems linked to obesity such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers.
If we can thwart childhood obesity and educate adults on the healthy virtues of losing fat, we may yet be able to generate a downward trend for obesity, and its related threats to mortality and our poorly constructed US health care system.