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Obesity epidemic rages on, CDC says

The nation's obesity epidemic continues to worsen despite intensive efforts to try to get Americans to slim down, according to a new federal report analyzing obesity rates on a state level that was released Tuesday.

The number of states in which at least one-third of the adults were obese tripled in two years, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's report. In 2000, no state had an obesity prevalence of 30 percent or more. By 2007 that was the case in three states -- Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee. By 2009, it was up to nine -- Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and West Virginia, according to the report.

There isn't a single state that has an obesity prevalence of 15 percent or less, which is the goal set by the federal government's Health People 2010 program.

The obesity rate varies widely from state to state, ranging from as low as 18.6 percent in Colorado to 34.4 percent in Mississippi. Southern and Midwestern states tend to have higher rates. The obesity rate was 24.2 in Virginia, 26.2 in Maryland and 19.7 in the District in 2009.

Between 2007 and 2009, an additional 2.4 million Americans ages 18 and older became obese, according to the report. Overall, 26.7 percent of American adults -- more than 72 million -- are obese. Blacks have the highest rate -- 36.8 percent, followed by Hispanics.

The rising obesity rate is adding to the nation's medical bill. Obese people cost the medical system $1,429 more in 2008 than people with normal weights, according to the report. In 2008, medical costs associated with obesity were about $147 billion.

The findings are based on new data from the CDC's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, which involved about 400,000 detailed telephone interviews with people around the country.

By Rob Stein  |  August 3, 2010; 12:03 PM ET
Categories:  Obesity  
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Top that, China!

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | August 3, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Greed... It is all about more, more, more. We as, Americans, consume way too many large portions. Everyday you see the next BIG thing... something that contains more fat, sugar and calories in a half serving than should be consumed in a day.

Until we get rid of the mentality that bigger is better and more is way to show that you fit in, we are doomed to be a nation that is obese.

Posted by: Hunter21 | August 3, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

That explains why going on one of the major free dating sites in the US, there are so many obese people. It's horrible. The food and urban planning industry I think are the biggest culprits. Their sole goal has been to maximize profit instead of thinking of the well being of the people of this country.

For those of you who don't believe the food industry is a major culprit, you have probably not lived in a country where the majority of women still have beautiful figures.

I lived in Gdansk, Poland in 2003 and at the train station the giant fast food corporations had taken over every choice spot. Polish women have the most beautiful figures. The Polish women working in the fast food places that we see here were extremely obese just like Americans. If you crossed the major road, at that time there were still many mom and pop restaurants. The women working in those restaurants had the beautiful figures. It absolutely disgusted me to see this.

I have lived in several countries and this has been true in every case.

Another problem is traditions and knowledge of cooking healthy foods has disappeared because of convenience foods. We don't even know what's really in these processed foods. There are a lot of corn by products packed in them which make people obese.

Posted by: Playitagainsam | August 3, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

While I thank you for sharing this information and bringing us up to date on what is happening with this trend, I believe it would have been helpful if you had added ideas on how to fight this trend, how individuals can turn the tide against obesity.

My husband and I, while not obese, were not living a healthy lifestyle two years ago. My husband's cholesterol and triglycerides were through the roof. So we took the steps we needed and totally changed our lives. I went from a size 12 to a size 0 in two years and my husband's blood counts are back to normal.

We are now reaching out to our community (Severna Park, MD) with free weekly workout sessions featuring cardio workouts for beginners. We know how difficult it can be to take that first step, so we help people do that, and continue to motivate and encourage them on their journey. It's something little that we can do to change lives one by one.

Posted by: JanHicks | August 3, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

"I went from a size 12 to a size 0 in two years and my husband's blood counts are back to normal."


So, let me understand. You went from a size 12, which until a few years ago was considered the average dress size for a woman, to a size 0, which means essentially that you've vanished.

That's an accomplishment to admire?

Thanks, but I'll pass on your generous offer and instead opt for a truly healthy weight.

Posted by: haveaheart | August 3, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

While everyone makes their own choices about what they eat, and they can choose to eat more healthy products over fast food, the big corporations do exercise much more control over the farming in this country than they should. The fact that healthy food (such as fresh fruits and vegetables) can be more expensive than the high-fat, high-sugar, high-carb offerings is disgraceful. Congress is so busy keeping their jobs (through accepting thousands of dollars in PAC money from corporate farmers and the like for whom they pass a massive and ultimately bad for the country farm bill) that they aren't doing their jobs and passing legislation that would help defeat the obesity epidemic in this country that will eventually bankrupt our health care system, regardless of who is running it.

What it comes down to is a "spend time now" vs. "spend time later" proposition:

Spend time now reading food labels, educating yourself on what is healthy, preparing fresh food, finding time to exercise and doing what you need to do to live a more healthy lifestyle or else you may...

Spend time later at numerous doctors appointments for high blood pressure, obesity, high cholestorol and spending time in line at the drug store filling prescriptions to help you fight these ailments. You may even find yourself spending time later in the hospital because you didn't take the time now to try to live healthier.

Everyone has choices. People might not like the choices they have but they always have choices.

Posted by: JLF03 | August 3, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

So, let me understand. You went from a size 12, which until a few years ago was considered the average dress size for a woman, to a size 0, which means essentially that you've vanished.

That's an accomplishment to admire?

Thanks, but I'll pass on your generous offer and instead opt for a truly healthy weight.

Posted by: haveaheart | August 3, 2010 2:03 PM
why so bitter? It's great what she did and she should be proud of it. Just because a size 12 is average, doesn't mean it is the healthiest size. Obviously if the article is about American's getting larger, then the average size is too big.

Posted by: pipe1 | August 3, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Did Hardees/Carl Jrs come out with that footlong cheeseburger yet? Guaranteed to be digested in 6 months.

Posted by: biffgrifftheoneandonly | August 3, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

"spend time now" vs. "spend time later"

So one works 10 hours a day and spends a least 4 hours commuting (love to cut down on commute time find me a place to live on less than $1000/month in DC) spends lunch at brown bag meetings. Supposed to sleep at least 8 hours a night. Tell me where is the time to read labels, cook healthy and exercise?
Let's go to a 35 hour work week, let's subsidize metro so we can afford it and have less commute time, let's build affordable housing in the city with means of walking to work, stores etc. Let's have better labeling with ingredients in big letters with warnings about HFCS. Let's make it mandatory to label where food comes from and it it is genetically modified.
We just want a witch hunt not solutions.

Posted by: alterego3 | August 3, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

I have several friends who are morbidly obese. I am trying to lose that last 15 - 20 to get back to a healthy weight. Not easy but I also find a lot for me is personal choice of foods. Backstory, my husband has had two severe accidents in the past five years. The last one we did not know if he would be able to walk unassisted again or work. Well he is walking unassisted and back at work. During these incidents, I stress ate. My diet sucked to be blunt. I went from about 140 to 180+. I was officially obese. I had to take control of myself. I was depression eating big time. I was feel good eating. I was neglecting myself and finding substitutes and quick fixes as opposed to looking at the root cause of my weight gain. I had lost all the weight from child 1 and was almost done with child 2 weight loss when accident #1 happened. I went to about 160 with this. Accident #2 brought me to depression and 180+ I had no medical issues like thyroid that would complicate weight loss. I have a back issue (bone issue I was born with) that causes joint pain. My extra weight was making it worse. I saw a PT, chiropractor and podiatrist to help even my back out and found out I have a shorter leg. My Dr and I adressed depression and I am medication free now. I started to suck up the pain and do smaller workouts during the day and making small changes like walking a store four or five times before leaving, power walking the mall even if I had to go only to one store. Small steps. Swimming is also great!

Now, one friend of mine complains how costly it is to eat healthy. Wait a minute. I started to look at food costs and what she spends for junk food and what I spend for healthier choices. I actually spend less. I can buy a week's worth of various frozen veggies for what she spends in chips and soda. Yes, I have compared prices. Bananas are not expensive and I just bought a melon for what a box of cookies costs. So her argument holds no water and I have told her that.

I walk more than I used to. I got a Wii Fit. She does not walk and she spends her time sitting in a recliner playing video games (admittedly). I manage the pain knowing that though I will never be pain free due to my issue, it will get better. I stand a lot when I work, walk more, etc. (Sub teach and self employed dog trainer). Small things have made a visible change. I am pushing for larger things now.

I lost ten pounds just altering portion sizes and making better choices at fast food places. I do not deprive myself but I do make better choices. Another friend of mine has done the same and she is showing it.

I am close to my goal. I feel better about myself. My kids are seeing it.

But until I was ready to make those changes, address the depression and worry that contributed to this path of weight gain and decided to stop it, I would not have lost a thing. I also had the support of my friends which helps.

Posted by: Homemom | August 3, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

The solution to the obesity epidemic is very simple: make these people pay for it. Hit them in the pocketbook through higher insurance premiums, co-pays, etc. Just like higher car insurance premiums change many bad driving habits. A great majority of people simply do not care about their health. All of the research shows the percentage of smokers in this country did not decline until the price of cigarettes skyrocketed with federal taxes, etc. The health warnings about smoking had no effect. The continuing obesity epidemic proves that the majority of people do not care about their health. They do care about their pocketbooks.

Posted by: jimsandy1 | August 3, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Coke, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper will be the death of you. The more soft drinks you guzzle day and night in the summertime will make you fat and give you diabetes and heart disease.

High Fructose Corn Syrup is toxic and deadly. Aspartame is also toxic and dangerous.

Posted by: alance | August 3, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

On the other hand, if obesity causes more potential beneficiaries to die before age 65, it helps to reduce the burdens on Social Security and Medicare.

Why else would the federal government so heavily subsidize the industries responsible for obesity and smoking? Think of the billions spent on agricultural subsidies, big tobacco, or protecting these factory farms from competition.

The feds realized that Social Security and Medicare entitlements are completely out of control and will destroy the federal budget. Since tax hikes and benefit cuts are politically unpopular, the next best thing is to eliminate beneficiaries.

In other words, the "death panels" have been at work for a very long time.

Posted by: coakl | August 3, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Too quickly this becomes a finger pointing game. Just look at the comments already; lots of judgment all around. Is it possible for everyone of us to make better choices? Sure. Is it sometimes really hard with all of our other commitments? Yes. And realistically, as anyone who has struggled with their weight knows - what works for one person won't necessarily work for another. Like most things, it just isn't that simple. Walking alone won't be enough for everyone in terms of exercise - for me, I've got to get in a serious hour of hard charging cardio at least three times a week if I don't want to gain. For you, that same hour spent walking after dinner will do just fine and if so, that's fantastic - do it.

Food choices are complex too - yes, you can eat relatively healthy relatively cheaply, if you have the time and energy to make educated selections and access to decent stores. But that won't necessarily change your weight. It will help - but believe it or not, you can still pack away alot of calories eating perfectly healthy food. Trust me, I know. I've done it. You'd be amazed how many carrots I can eat in one sitting if I'm not thinking about it. :)

Point being - don't be too quick to judge and say "I have the perfect answer because it worked for me." I'm not you.

Posted by: vickistired | August 3, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and West Virginia.

Sounds like we have a Republican problem. It's a good thing they don't want a single payer national health care system. They would cost the nation a fortune.

Posted by: thebobbob | August 3, 2010 7:17 PM | Report abuse

It's very easy to explain this unhealthy trend. Just think about how things were 40 years ago. No internet, no cable tv, no computers for domestic use, etc etc. Back then we actually used to be outside more, walked or biked to places more and a fun weekend afternoon consisted of playing baseball or doing some physical activity. Now we just sit in front of the tv or computer hardly burning any calories while also eating much more unhealthy foods. Part of it I blame on the food manufacturing companies who have given us the power to have instant food while sacrificing quality and health. In addition, they have sought to increase profits by using chemicals instead of natural things.

Portion size is not the problem. If you're a healthy male and exercise a lot, you can easily consume 3000 calories a day and not be fat. All of you out there who complain about your weight, if you just took the time and effort to jog 3 miles a day, a lot of you would be at the weight you desire.

Posted by: Thundershock | August 4, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Thundershock, this is exactly the kind of "I know what your problem is" comment I mean. I do 45 minutes of cardio a minimum of 4 days a week plus 30 minutes twice a week of strength training. I'm out every weekend working in the yard; I use a push mower (non-power) to make mowing the lawn exercise. I eat healthy. I cannot lose weight. I have not lost a single pound in two years - and I wish I could. If I wanted to go beyond simply maintaining a healthy lifestyle and lose the 15lbs that I think shouldn't be there, I'd have up the ante. While I had time when I was in my early twenties and still in school to work out for 2+ hours a night; an hour is really all I can afford now (and that hour already means I don't even get home to sit down to dinner with the family until 8pm or later). So don't be quick to judge - not all of us out here with weight problems are lazy. You have no idea, clearly, of what some of us struggle with.

Posted by: vickistired | August 4, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and West Virginia.

Sounds like we have a Republican problem. It's a good thing they don't want a single payer national health care system. They would cost the nation a fortune.

Blacks have the highest rate -- 36.8 percent, followed by Hispanics.

Blacks and Hispanics vote for the GOP?

Posted by: louisp3 | August 4, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

This is issue is shocking. We need to cut subsidies for the production of corn syrup and sugars and let people pay the real cost if they really want to eat unhealthy foods. Let's create incentives for children to have greater access to fruits and vegetables. It is big business to keep us all addicted to fats, concentrated sugars, and salt in this country!!!! And we wonder why our universities are being taken over by foreign students!!!

Posted by: knowbout | August 5, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

To Vickistired: You know as well as everyone else that you are eating too many calories. Your exercise levels are more than sufficient. You have to bite the bullet and reduce your calorie intake by at least one third or possibly more. Losing weight is very simple

Posted by: jimsandy1 | August 5, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

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