Adult Obesity Continues to Rise or Remain Constant in All States

A September 4 Governing article reported that despite a potential decline in the obesity rates of young children, adult obesity rates continue to increase or remain level in all states.  Based on an annual report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust for America’s Health, six states saw an increase in adult obesity while no state saw a statistically significant decline.  Maryland is ranked 29 out of the states and the District of Columbia (lower is better) with an adult obesity rate of 28.3%.  From the article:

“While we’ve seen some progress on the childhood obesity front, the results remain mixed for adults,” said Jeff Levi, the executive director of Trust for America’s Health, in a conference call with reporters. “Quite simply, obesity in America is at a critical juncture,” he later added.  …

Nationally, obesity in America started to surge about 30 years ago, when no state had a rate above 15 percent. But by 1994 adult obesity climbed to 23 percent nationally, according to the CDC. By 2005-06, the rate reached 34.3 percent, where it’s remained largely static overall since. For 2011-12, the most recent year available, adult obesity was 34.9 percent. Critics have long blamed persistent lobbying from food companies against federal regulation, and farm subsidies that encourage the growth of crops like corn, a key component of high-fructose corn syrup, a common food additive linked to obesity.

According to this year’s report, adult obesity rates increased by statistically significant margins in six states: Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, New Jersey, Tennessee and Wyoming. In Mississippi and West Virginia, now the two states with the highest obesity rates in the country, the overall rate topped 35 percent for the first time ever. Colorado had the lowest rate at 21.3 percent. States in the West generally have lower obesity rates than the rest of the country; nine out of the 10 highest-ranked states are in the South.

Perhaps of most concern to public health professionals are persistent disparities based on race, education and income. The rate among black people is at or above 40 percent in 11 states, and more than 33 percent of adults who earn less than $15,000 a year are obese.

The article also discusses obesity rate disparities based on race and income and actions some jurisdictions have taken to combat adult and child obesity.

2013 Adult Obesity Rates and Rankings By State

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