A new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation finds that “adult obesity rates increased in 28 states in the past year, and declined only in the District of Columbia.” And “more than two-thirds of states (38) have adult obesity rates above 25 percent,” a figure practically unheard of 20 years ago when “no state had an obesity rate above 20 percent.” Other key findings:
- Adult obesity rates for Blacks topped 40 percent in nine states, 35 percent in 34 states, and 30 percent in 43 states and D.C. Rates of adult obesity for Latinos were above 35 percent in two states (North Dakota and Tennessee) and at 30 percent and above in 19 states. No state had rates of adult obesity above 35 percent for Whites. Only one state-West Virginia-had an adult obesity rate for Whites greater than 30 percent.
- The number of states where adult obesity rates exceed 30 percent doubled in the past year, from four to eight –Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and West Virginia.
- Ten of the 11 states with the highest rates of diabetes are in the South, as are the 10 states with the highest rates of hypertension. Northeastern and Western states had the lowest adult obesity rates; Colorado remained the lowest at 19.1 percent.
Look at their colorful map of childhood obesity rates (which is interactive on their website):
The report also finds that the public is fairly receptive to using taxpayer dollars to help bring down obesity rates. For instance, 56% says that “a comprehensive program to combat childhood obesity is worth the financial investment, even if it would increase government spending by billions of dollars a year (and this during a difficult economic period in which many voters have been hesitant to support more government spending).” (The very same ‘difficult economic period’ that may have pushed some consumers towards cheaper and less healthy foods). Fifty-eight percent believe preventing childhood obesity is “a very important” priority.
This all sounds good, but it’s easy to support general obesity reduction efforts that don’t have any specific proposals or cost estimates attached to them — particularly when you see the whole thing as someone else’s fault. The survey also found that 84% of parents believe their children are at a healthy weight, “but research shows nearly one-third of children and teens are obese or overweight.”