Obesity Continues to Rise in Most States

Study suggests 75 percent of Americans will be overweight or obese by 2015.

ByABC News
August 19, 2008, 12:01 PM

Aug. 19, 2008— -- Massive public efforts to curb the U.S. obesity epidemic are falling tragically short, with populations in most states becoming more obese with each passing year, according to a new report that underscores the failure of initiatives aimed at promoting exercise and good nutrition.

The discouraging trends, reported in the fifth annual "F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies Are Failing in America, 2008" report from the Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), reveal that obesity rates rose in 37 states in the past year, while no state registered a decrease in obesity.

Worse, in 24 states the uptick continued a trend seen from the previous year. Obesity rates rose for a third consecutive year in a total of 19 states.

"Our analysis found that on the state and community levels, overall we are not treating the obesity epidemic with the urgent response it deserves," said Jeff Levi, executive director of TFAH, during a Tuesday morning press conference.

As in years past, states in the South were found to have particularly high obesity levels. The region accounted for nine of the top 10 most obese states.

Mississippi holds the dubious honor as the most obese state, with 31.7 percent of adults qualifying as obese. Colorado is the slimmest state, with only 18.4 percent of the adult population classified as obese -- but even this figure is the result of two years of steadily increasing obesity rates.

According to the report, Colorado remains the only state in which the adult obesity rate is less than 20 percent.

"In 1991, no state had an obesity rate of more than 20 percent," said Dr. James Marks, senior vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, during the press conference. He added that the new figures are cause for "urgency and outright alarm."

"It's shocking, the rate of this increase Our nation is in a public health epidemic that continues undiminished," he said.

The findings suggest that Americans are further than ever from achieving the health goals set forth by Healthy People 2010 -- an effort that aims to reduce the prevalence of overweight and obesity among adults to less than 15 percent and among children to less than 5 percent by the year 2010.