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State Obesity Rates: Numbers Get Worse

Mississippi Most Obese State in Annual "F as in Fat" Report
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

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 Foundation.

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 efforts.

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 2004, 2005, and 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."

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