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Obesity Rates Are Increasing in 16 States

Study Shows Colorado Has the Lowest Adult Obesity Rate and Mississippi the Highest

Obesity Rates High in the South continued...

Since 1995, diabetes rates have doubled in eight states, and every state has high blood pressure rates greater than 20%, and nine have rates above 30%.

There is no single reason that obesity rates are increasing across the board.

"A lot of little changes have added up to that," Marks says. "Portion sizes in restaurants and the size of soft drinks that one can get at convenience stores are much larger," he says. "You can get a 44-ounce drink and that is the equivalent of a six pack when I was growing up."

"Snacking has gone up more and more," he says.

It is difficult to even get healthy foods in some parts of the country, Marks says. "We have cut off physical activity funding in schools and the foods that are subsidized are those that are least healthy for children."

Childhood Obesity

Things have the potential to get a whole lot worse too, Marks says. While the 76 million baby boomers play a role in the increasing rates of obesity seen today, the next wave may be even bigger.

"The rate of increase of obesity in children has tripled or quadrupled since the 1970s," he says. "We have an even larger wave coming in unless we can turn it around."

The onus is on everyone involved, says Scott Kahan, MD, co-director of the George Washington University Weight Management Program in Washington, D.C. He served as a peer reviewer of the new report.

The data are "pretty pessimistic," he says.

But "we are finally starting to look at this problem from the big-picture perspective," Kahan says.

It is not an individual willpower issue. "Our behaviors are shaped by the schools we go to, the communities we live in, and the homes we go to," he says. "It is a multi-faceted problem that needs a multi-faceted answer."

"Even really good programs like minimizing the marketing of junk foods to young kids and providing more access to healthy foods won't solve this problem or take a huge bite out of it," Kahan says. "It's got to be comprehensive."

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