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Rate of adult obesity climbs in 28 states


Obesity rates among adults continue to rise. (Kirsty Wigglesworth -- AP)

Adult obesity rates jumped in 28 states, while the District saw a small decline.

The numbers come from a new report, "F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future," from the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. An average of 2007 to 2009 data showed that 38 states have adult obesity rates above 25 percent. In 1991, no state had an obesity rate above 20 percent.

The report also highlights troubling racial, ethnic and geographic disparities. Adult obesity rates for blacks and Latinos were higher than for whites in at least 40 states and the District. Ten of the 11 states with the highest rates of obesity were in the South; Mississippi weighed in with the highest adult rate for the sixth year in a row with 33.8 percent. Adults earning less than $15,000 were also significantly more likely to be obese than those earning $50,000 or more annually.

"This report shows that the country has taken bold steps to address the obesity crisis in recent years but the nation's response has yet to fully match the magnitude of the problem," said Jeffrey Levi, executive director of Trust for America's Health. "Millions of Americans still face barriers – like the high cost of healthy foods and lack of access to safe places to be physically active – that make healthy choices challenging."

For the Washington metro area, the news was mixed. The District ranked the third least obese in the nation: 21.5 percent of the population was obese, down from 22.3 percent in 2009. (The report did not hypothesize a reason for the decline.) But the racial disparity was stark. Only 9 percent of whites were obese compared to 34.4 percent of blacks and 20.6 percent of Latinos.

But the District was ranked ninth in the nation for its 20.1 percent rate of childhood obesity. The report did note that DC Public Schools have taken measures to improve school lunch policies, which are thought to affect childhood nutrition. The District's school system has set stricter nutritional standards for school lunches, breakfasts and snacks than required by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Along with 28 states, it also has set standards for food sold in a la carte lines and school stores.

Maryland ranked 26th in the nation for its 26.6 percent obesity rate. Virginia ranked 32nd with 25.5 percent of adults considered obese. The racial disparities in the two states were significant but far less pronounced than in the District. In Maryland, 36.3 percent of blacks, 24.4 percent of Latinos and 23.9 percent of whites were considered obese. In Virginia, the rate was 35.4 percent among blacks, 29.2 percent among Latinos and 24.7 percent among whites.

-- Jane Black

By Jane Black  |  June 29, 2010; 10:00 AM ET
Categories:  Food Politics  | Tags: Jane Black  
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Comments

It should come as no surprise that Mississippi, with Gov. Haley Barbour, is the "most weight challenged" state in the union.

Posted by: JSKEVV | June 30, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

It should come as no surprise that adults all over the US feel so stressed out with the daily barrage from Washington that they are stress eating.

Posted by: katya3 | July 6, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

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