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Entire Country’s Adult Obesity Levels Rise Above 20 Percent



A new report has been released that shows that 23 of 25 states with the highest obesity rates are located in the South and Midwest United States. The report, The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America, by Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) was released this week.

According to the report, Arkansas, West Virginia and Mississippi are all above 35 percent adult obesity rate, with Arkansas having the highest obesity rating at 35.9 percent, and 19 other states having an adult obesity rate above a 30 percent. Nine out of ten states with the highest obesity ratings are located in the South. TFAH said the report found in “1980, no state had a rate above 15 percent, and in 1991, no state had a rate above 20. Now, nationally, more than 30 percent of adults, nearly 17 percent of 2 to 19 year olds and more than 8 percent of children ages 2 to 5 are obese.” 

According to the report, more than six percent of US adults have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or more, which is quadruple the number of severely obese adults in the past 30 years. Obesity rates are at or above 30 percent in 42 states for Blacks, 30 states for Latinos, and 13 states for Whites.

“Obesity in America is at a critical juncture. Obesity rates are unacceptably high, and the disparities in rates are profoundly troubling,” said Jeffrey Levi, PhD, executive director of TFAH.  “We need to intensify prevention efforts starting in early childhood, and do a better job of implementing effective policies and programs in all communities – so every American has the greatest opportunity to have a healthy weight and live a healthy life."

“In order to build a national Culture of Health, we must help all children, no matter who they are or where they live, grow up at a healthy weight," said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and CEO of RWJF. "We know that when we take comprehensive steps to help families be more active and eat healthier foods, we can see progress. Now we must extend those efforts and that progress to every community in the country."

To read the full report or view the interactive map, visit the TFAH website.