Weighing In on American Obesity

CDC reports Mississippi has highest obesity rate, Colorado is slimmest.

ByABC News
February 18, 2009, 3:18 PM

July 17, 2008— -- Hold the cheeseburger and fries. American adults are getting heavier, and numbers released from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today prove it.

The CDC said some 26 percent of the U.S. population was obese in 2007, up nearly 2 percent from 2005. The CDC also said not one state yet has met the national goal to reduce obesity rates to 15 percent or lower by 2010.

Given the upward trend, "it will be difficult for us as a country to achieve the 15 percent," Deb Galuska, associate director for science in the CDC's division of nutrition, physical activity and obesity, told ABCNews.com on Thursday.

"The epidemic of adult obesity continues to rise in the United States, indicating that we need to step up our efforts at the national, state and local levels," said Dr. William Dietz, director of CDC's division of nutrition, physical activity and obesity in a Thursday statement. "We need to encourage people to eat more fruits and vegetables, engage in more physical activity and reduce the consumption of high-calorie foods and sugar-sweetened beverages in order to maintain a healthy weight."

To assess Americans' efforts to fight obesity, the CDC collected information by asking more than 350,000 people about their height and weight. As a result, officials said it's possible the latest obesity rates are even higher than reported.

"When you ask people their weights, they tend to underestimate," Galuska said. "When you ask people their heights, men in particular, tend to overestimate."

"What we think in the survey is that it's a conservative estimate," she added.

Though Americans still have time to meet the national goal to reduce obesity, some states have a ways to go.

The states with the biggest waistlines Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee are all battling obesity rates of more than 30 percent.

CDC data revealed that other states with the dubious honor of being home to overweight residents include Louisiana, with a 29.8 percent obesity rate and West Virginia, at 29.5 percent. Clustered in the south, Arkansas, South Carolina, Georgia, Texas and Oklahoma weighed in next, with obesity rates upwards of 28 percent.