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Obesity rates in several states reach new historic highs

Policy fellow Leon T. Andrews said it's unclear whether current health policies "are actually reaching and benefiting those in the most vulnerable neighborhoods."
By Brooks Hays   |   Sept. 4, 2014 at 12:06 PM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, Sept. 4 (UPI) -- A new report on obesity shows several U.S. states have reached all time obesity rate highs. For the first time ever, West Virginia and Mississippi weigh in with obesity rates that broke the 35 percent mark.

This year's State of Obesity report -- the 11th one put out by the nonprofit groups Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation -- relies on data collected by the CDC.

While the report suggests America's waistline continues to expand, there is a silver lining -- we're not getting quite as fat quite as fast as we used to. In some states -- including California, Utah, Louisiana and Alabama -- obesity rates fell between 2012 and 2013.

Arkansas helps West Virginia and Mississippi round out the top three fattest states with an obesity rate of 34.6 percent. Eight out of ten states with the highest obesity rates are located in the South -- Indiana and Oklahoma being the two outliers. Colorado is the thinnest state with an obesity rate of 21.3 percent.

The report shows that obesity continues to be a problem shouldered most heavily by African-American and Latino communities. "Adult obesity rates for Blacks were at or above 40 percent in 11 states, 35 percent in 29 states and 30 percent in 41 states," researchers wrote in a letter accompanying the report.

Researchers say more needs to be done to make sure public policies that promote healthy eating and more active lifestyles reach minority communities -- including educating America's young people about nutrition, diet and exercise.

"Today, policies to increase healthy eating and active living are being implemented all across the country," Leon T. Andrews, Jr., a senior fellow at the National League of Cities, wrote in the report's commentary section. But Andrews said "it's unclear whether they are actually reaching and benefiting those in the most vulnerable neighborhoods."

Topics: Robert Wood
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