Seattle/Local Health Guide ! State obesity rate more than doubles over 20 years

Staff - - 07/07/2011
Obesity Surgeries

The percentage of adults in Washington state who are obese has more than doubled over the past two decades from 10 percent to more than 26 percent — and two-thirds, 62 percent, are either obese or overweight, according to a new report.

The report, F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2011, prepared by Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, found that obesity rates continue to rise nationally, with obesity rates now exceeding 25 percent in more than two-thirds of states (38 states).

Twelve states now have obesity rates above 30 percent, the report found: Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia.

Four years ago, only one state was above 30 percent.

Mississippi had the highest rate of obesity at 34.4 percent.

Colorado had the lowest rate at 19.8 percent and is the only state with a rate below 20 percent.

Adults with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 to 29.9 are considered overweight, while those with a BMI of 30 or more are considered obese. Use the BMI calculator widget on the right to determine your BMI.

Obesity rates among the young is also on the rise: Today, more than one-third of children ages 10–17 are obese (16.4 percent) or overweight (18.2 percent).

Oregon had the lowest child obesity rate, 9.6 percent; Mississippi had the highest at 21.9 percent.

Washington state ranked 48th in the nation for child obesity at 11.1 percent.

Nearly a third of Americans ages 17–24 are too heavy to join the military.

Obesity markedly increases a person’s risk of more than 20 major diseases, including diabetes and heart disease, the report notes.

“It’s not just our health that is suffering: obesity-related medical costs and a less productive workforce are hampering America’s ability to compete in the global economy,” the report warns.

The report proposes six strategies for combating the nation’s obesity epidemic:

Ensuring that all foods and beverages served and sold in schools meet or exceed the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Increasing access to high-quality, affordable foods through new or improved grocery stores and healthier corner stores and bodegas.

Increasing the time, intensity, and duration of physical activity during the school day and in out-of-school programs.

Increasing physical activity by improving the built environment in communities.

Using pricing strategies — both incentives and disincentives — to promote the purchase of healthier foods.

Reducing youths’ exposure to the marketing of unhealthy foods through regulation, policy, and effective industry self-regulation.

To learn more:

Read the report: F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2011.

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