The most telling fact about this year’s report on adult obesity in the United States comes courtesy of Jeff Levi, executive director of the nonprofit organization Trust for America’s Health: The state with the lowest obesity rate this year would have had the highest rate in 1995.
The report “F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2011” reveals that 12 states now have an adult obesity rate of at least 30 percent, an increase from eight states last year. Four years ago, only one state was above 30 percent, according to Trust for America’s Health, which co-produced the report with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
For the seventh consecutive year, Mississippi has the highest adult obesity rate at 34.4 percent, an increase from 33.8 percent last year. For the eighth consecutive year, Colorado has the lowest adult obesity rate at 19.8 percent, the only state below 20 percent. By comparison, Mississippi had the nation’s highest adult obesity rate in 1995 at 19.4 percent.
For the first time, this year’s report examined how the obesity epidemic has grown over the past two decades.
“There was a clear tipping point in our national weight gain over the last 20 years, and we can’t afford to ignore the impact obesity has on our health and corresponding health care spending,” Levi said in a statement.
Adult obesity rates increased in 16 states in the past year and did not decline in any state, according to the report. Nine of the 10 states with the highest rates are in the South while states in the Northeast and West tend to have lower rates. Also, racial and ethnic minority adults, and those with less education or who make less money, continue to have the highest overall obesity rates.
Since 1995, when data was available in every state, obesity rates doubled in seven states and increased by at least 90 percent in 10 other states, the report states. Obesity rates have grown the fastest in Oklahoma, Alabama and Tennessee and the slowest in Washington, DC, Colorado and Connecticut.
The increased obesity rates have led to increases in diabetes, high blood pressure and other health problems, according to the report. Today, 43 states have diabetes rates of more than 7 percent, and every state has hypertension rates of more than 20 percent.
The states with the highest adult obesity ranking are:
1. Mississippi (34.4 percent)
2. Alabama (32.3 percent)
3. West Virginia (32.2 percent)
4. Tennessee (31.9 percent)
5. Louisiana (31.6 percent)
6. Kentucky (31.5 percent)
7. Oklahoma (31.4 percent)
8. South Carolina (30.9 percent)
9. Arkansas (30.6 percent)
10. Michigan (30.5 percent)
11. Missouri (30.3 percent)
12. Texas (30.1 percent)