Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Obesity Percentages Continue to Climb in the U.S.

We Americans are getting fatter, for the most part. In fact, today's annual obesity rankings, outside of fairly healthy Colorado, there's lots of bad news. The new report from the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shows that obesity rates among adults rose in 23 states over the past year and didn't decline anywhere.

Consider the news a huge amount of inflation. In terms of health, the inflation occurs only in our belt sizes.

Obesity for adults is defined as having a body mass index above 30. Overweight is defined as having a BMI over 25. When combined, two-thirds of American adults are either obese or overweight. Ouch.

The Trust for America's Health report is called "F as in Fat."

Mississippi had the highest rate of adult obesity (32.5%). That is the fifth year in a row that Mississipi has topped the list. Three other states have rates above 30% Alabama (31.2%), West Virginia (31.1%), and Tennessee (30.2%). As I said, Colorado is lean and mean, and continued to have the lowest percentage of obese adults at 18.9%.

In terms of obese and overweight children (ages 10 to 17), Mississippi also had the highest rate at 44.4%. Minnesota and Utah had the lowest rate at 23.1%. The report notes that childhood obesity rates have more than tripled since 1980.

Some additional key findings from "F as in Fat 2009" include:
  • The current economic crisis could exacerbate the obesity epidemic. Food prices, particularly for more nutritious foods, are expected to rise, making it more difficult for families to eat healthy foods. At the same time, safety-net programs and services are becoming increasingly overextended as the numbers of unemployed, uninsured and underinsured continue to grow. In addition, due to the strain of the recession, rates of depression, anxiety and stress, which are linked to obesity for many individuals, also are increasing.
  • Nineteen states now have nutritional standards for school lunches, breakfasts and snacks that are stricter than current USDA requirements. Five years ago, only four states had legislation requiring stricter standards.
  • Twenty-seven states have nutritional standards for competitive foods sold a la carte, in vending machines, in school stores or in school bake sales. Five years ago, only six states had nutritional standards for competitive foods.
  • Twenty states have passed requirements for body mass index (BMI) screenings of children and adolescents or have passed legislation requiring other forms of weight-related assessments in schools. Five years ago, only four states had passed screening requirements.
  • A recent analysis commissioned by TFAH found that the Baby Boomer generation has a higher rate of obesity compared with previous generations. As the Baby Boomer generation ages, obesity-related costs to Medicare and Medicaid are likely to grow significantly because of the large number of people in this population and its high rate of obesity. And, as Baby Boomers become Medicare-eligible, the percentage of obese adults age 65 and older could increase significantly. Estimates of the increase in percentage of obese adults range from 5.2% in New York to 16.3% in Alabama.
None of this is good news, and it probably forecasts still more problems for Medicare, which not only faces a flood of baby boomers, but a flood of obese baby boomers.
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1 comment:

roger said...

Nineteen states now school lunches, snacks and breakfast USDA compared to the current requirements are strict standards for nutrition. Five years ago only four states required standards of strict laws.
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