Obesity rate tops 25% in two-thirds of states; this should be shocking, but ...


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Overall, Americans in 28 states are still gaining weight, but not residents of the nation’s capital. They bucked the national trend, a new report has found, actually lowering their obesity rate. The former should be more surprising, more noteworthy than the latter; by this point, it might not be.

The latest numbers come from the annual obesity assessment offered by Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and it’s a goldmine of data, individual findings and broad overviews. Can’t get enough of those ‘which state is fatter’ comparisons? This analysis is for you.


Not only does the report rank states and the District of Columbia by their obesity rates, showing the trends over time, it compares ethnic groups within those states as well. It also includes a nice synopsis of what states are doing, in terms of legislation, to combat the seemingly unstoppable gain. Then there are various other comparisons -- breast-feeding rates, physical activity rates and the like. This doesn’t imply causation, of course (so no need to e-mail us about it!) but the correlation is interesting: D.C. also has the highest rate of fruit and vegetable consumption.

In any case, Mississippi has the highest rate of adult obesity; 33.8% of its residents are obese. Colorado is the relative slimmest; only 19.1% of its residents are obese. California ranked fairly well as such things go, with 24.4% of its residents characterized as obese. (We have to point out, that’s an increase over last year.)

As for obesity rates by ethnic groups, those numbers paint their own picture. Wisconsin has the highest rate of obesity among black residents; 44% are obese. Nevada, at 25.8%, has the lowest rate. Tennessee claims that distinction for Latinos; 39.5% of Latinos there are considered obese. D.C., at 20.6%, has the lowest rate.

By this point, the individual numbers are likely to garner quiet dismay more than the disbelief they warrant. Obesity rates now top 25% -- repeat, 25% -- in two-thirds of the states; that should be shocking, it should. But, somehow, it isn’t.

If there’s a bright side (other than D.C.), the trends, the ethnic differences -- all are useful in assessing where to go from here. The report offers its authors’ thoughts, all policy-oriented, on that matter.

Here’s the full report, ‘F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2010.’ It can also be found at either organization’s website, or, should you be interested in checking out the organizations.

-- Tami Dennis