Obesity in adults and children is still growing at epic levels, a recent report revealed, with an organization calling for a collective national effort on the heels of the news.
Adult obesity rates rose in 31 states last year, according to the fourth-annual "F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies are Failing in America" report from the Trust for America's Health. In this 2007 report covering 2006, 22 states experienced an increase for the second year in a row; no states decreased. A new public opinion survey featured in the report, which was supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (www.rwjf.org), finds 85 percent of Americans believe that obesity is an epidemic.
Trust for America's Health is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting the health of every community and working to make disease prevention a national priority.
The report found that Mississippi topped the list with the highest rate of adult obesity in the country for the third year in a row, and is the first state to reach a rate of over 30 percent (at 30.6 percent). Colorado was the leanest state again this year, however, its adult obesity rate increased over the past year (from 16.9 to 17.6 percent). Ten of the 15 states with the highest rates of adult obesity are located in the South. Rates of adult obesity now exceed 25 percent in 19 states, an increase from 14 states last year and nine in 2005. In 1991, none of the states exceeded 20 percent.
The report also finds that rates of overweight children (age 10-17) ranged from a high of 22.8 percent in Washington, D.C., to a low of 8.5 percent in Utah. Eight of the 10 states with the highest rates of overweight children were in the South. To read more details about individual states, go to the trust's website, www.healthyamericans.org.
In the opinion survey in the report, findings included that 81 percent of Americans believe that the government should have a role in addressing the obesity crisis. A majority said it strongly supported government working on proposals to expand education programs about healthy living, provide low-cost access to exercise programs, and reduce the marketing of unhealthy foods. The survey was conducted in mid-July for the trust by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research Inc. and has a +/-3.1 percent margin of error. Other findings are available on the trust's website.
After the release of the report, the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors called for a collective effort by schools, communities, businesses and government to provide a long-term solution to the issue.
"As this report points out, we now have a growing evidence base to take on this important public health problem," said Marcus Plescia, an association board member and North Carolina representative, who was involved in the report's review. "The problem is that while many states across the nation have excellent obesity plans, they are starving for resources as our citizens get fatter."
The National Association of Chronic Disease Directors is a national public health association founded in 1988 to link the chronic disease program directors of each state and U.S. territory to provide a national forum for chronic disease prevention and control efforts. The group provides state-based leadership and expertise for chronic disease prevention and control at the state and national level. More information about the association and an obesity workgroup are available at www.chronicdisease.org.