Margaret Farley Steele, HealthDay Reporter via US News and World Report
More than 20 states have obesity rates topping one-third of their population, and six states saw a rise in obesity rates last year, according to two new reports on America's worrisome, widening girth.
The reports released Thursday -- one from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the other from the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation -- tapped into government data and presented a sobering look at the nation's obesity epidemic.
"Obesity in America is at a critical juncture. Obesity rates are unacceptably high, and the disparities in rates are profoundly troubling," said Jeffrey Levi, executive director of Trust for America's Health. "We need to intensify prevention efforts starting in early childhood, and do a better job of implementing effective policies and programs in all communities so every American has the greatest opportunity to have a healthy weight and live a healthy life."
Being obese increases the risk of serious health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis and some cancers.
The CDC report, based on nationwide self-reporting of height and weight in 2013, finds that obesity rates range from a high of 35 percent in Mississippi and West Virginia to a low of 21.3 percent in Colorado.
Only seven states -- California, Colorado, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Montana, Utah and Vermont, as well as the District of Columbia -- have fewer than one-quarter of adult residents who are obese, the new CDC figures show.
The 20 states with obesity rates of 30 percent or more are Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.
The South and the Midwest had the highest prevalence of obesity at just over 30 percent. The Northeast had obesity rates of 26.5 percent and the West weighed in at just under 25 percent, the CDC said.
Adult obesity rates inched up last year in six states -- Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, New Jersey, Tennessee and Wyoming -- and didn't come down in any, the Robert Wood Johnson/Trust for America's Health researchers said in their State of Obesity report.