State Obesity Rates: Numbers Get Worse
Mississippi Most Obese State in Annual "F as in Fat" Report
Aug. 27, 2007 -- This year's annual "F as in Fat" obesity report
gives U.S. anti-obesity efforts an F as in Failure.
Since last year's report, obesity got worse in 31 states. How many states
got better? Zero. States that appear to have improved in the rankings did
so only because other states got worse.
"This report is a devastating indictment. We are still treating obesity
like a mere inconvenience rather than the emergency it is. We are not sending a
wake-up call -- we are ringing the emergency alarm," said James S. Marks,
MD, MPH, director of the health group at the Robert Wood Johnson
Marks spoke at a news conference announcing this year's report. At the
conference, Jeff Levi, PhD, executive director of the Trust for America's
Health, announced that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has made an
"unprecedented commitment" of $500 million to fund anti-obesity
The report shows that Mississippi is still the most obese state in the
nation. It's the first state in which over 30% of adults are obese. But
Mississippians are just ahead of the curve.
The rest of the U.S. is catching up. In 1991, no state's obesity rate topped
20% of adults. In 2006, more than 20% of adults were obese in every state
except for Massachusetts (at 19.8%) and Colorado (at 17.6%).
For kids, the news is even worse. Child obesity rates have tripled since
1980 and continue to grow faster than adult obesity rates. Nearly all obese
children will fight health problems for the rest of their lives.
The report comes from monthly self-report telephone interviews conducted in
2006 by the CDC. Since people tend to say they weight less than they actually
do, the findings almost certainly underestimate the problem.
This is the fourth annual obesity report from the nonprofit, nonpartisan
Trust for America's Health. As it did in
2006, the report calls for immediate action.
"The nation still lacks a comprehensive, effective strategy to combat
obesity," Levi said at the news conference. "The country needs to
develop a plan to combat obesity in proportion to the enormous scale and depth
of the problem."
The recommendations of the 120-page report call for:
- Better federal leadership -- including a comprehensive national
- Federal and state support for workplace anti-obesity programs
- Helping all Americans become more physically active
- Helping all Americans choose healthier foods
- Accelerating research into ways to promote lifestyle changes
"We have treated obesity as a minor cosmetic problem, but this is
central to the rise of health care costs in our nation and central to the rise
in preventable disease in our communities," Marks said. "It required a
lot of changes to our society to allow people to get this fat so easily. It
will take all of us working together to recognize this as the crisis it