From the Trust For America’s Health:
Adult obesity rates increased in 16 states in the past year and did not decline in any state, according to F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America‘s Future 2011, a report from the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). Twelve states now have obesity rates above 30 percent. Four years ago, only one state was above 30 percent.
The obesity epidemic continues to be most dramatic in the South, which includes nine of the 10 states with the highest adult obesity rates. States in the Northeast and West tend to have lower rates. Mississippi maintained the highest adult obesity rate for the seventh year in a row, and Colorado has the lowest obesity rate and is the only state with a rate under 20 percent.
This year, for the first time, the report examined how the obesity epidemic has grown over the past two decades. Twenty years ago, no state had an obesity rate above 15 percent.Today, more than two out of three states, 38 total, have obesity rates over 25 percent, and just one has a rate lower than 20 percent. Since 1995, when data was available for every state, obesity rates have doubled in seven states and increased by at least 90 percent in 10 others. O
besity rates have grown fastest in Oklahoma, Alabama, and Tennessee, and slowest in Washington, D.C., Colorado, and Connecticut.
“Today, the state with the lowest obesity rate would have had the highest rate in 1995,” said Jeff Levi, Ph.D., executive director of TFAH. “There was a clear tipping point in our national weight gain over the last twenty years, and we can’t afford to ignore the impact obesity has on our health and corresponding health care spending.”
Obesity has long been associated with other severe health problems, including diabetes and high blood pressure. New data in the report show how rates of both also have risen dramatically over the last two decades. Since 1995, diabetes rates have doubled in eight states. The
n, only four states had diabetes rates above 6 percent. Now, 43 states have diabetes rates over 7 percent, and 32 have rates above 8 percent. Twenty years ago, 37 states had hypertension rates over 20 percent. Now, every state is over 20 percent, with nine over 30 percent.
Racial and ethnic minority adults, and those with less education or who make less money, continue to have the highest overall obesity rates:
- Adult obesity rates for Blacks topped 40 percent in 15 states, 35 percent in 35 states, and 30 percent in 42 states and D.C.
- Rates of adult obesity among Latinos were above 35 percent in four states (Mississippi, North Dakota, South Carolina, and Texas) and at least 30 percent in 23 states.
- Meanwhile, rates of adult obesity for Whites topped 30 percent in just four states (Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, and West Virginia) and no state had a rate higher than 32.1 percent.
- Nearly 33 percent of adults who did not graduate high school are obese, compared with 21.5 percent of those who graduated from college or technical college.
More than 33 percent of adults who earn less than $15,000 per year were obese, compared with 24.6 percent of those who earn at least $50,000 per year.
A few things that I noticed:
“The obesity epidemic continues to be more dramatic in the South, which includes 9-10 states with the highest adult obesity rates. States in the Northeast and West tend to have lower rates. Mississippi maintained the highest adult obesity rate for the seventh year in a row, and Colorado has the lowest obesity rate and is the only state with a rate under 20%. […] Obesity rates have grown fastest in Oklahoma, Alabama, and Tennessee, and slowest in Washington, D.C., Colorado, and Connecticut.”
I mean, D.C. is a walking city if I remember correctly, Colorado is pretty well-known for being a home of outdoorsy-types (skiing, hiking, etc.) and Connecticut is something like the third wealthiest state in the union. These don’t surprise me. I’m also not surprised by the fact that states in the northeast and west have lower rates. Again, if you follow the money, both areas tend to have lots of money (New Hampshire, New Jersey, Maryland and Connecticut for the Northeast; California, Colorado and Utah for the West.)
The South also doesn’t surprise me: Mississippi, with the highest obesity rate, also is our poorest state. In fact, looking at this article from September of 2010, 9 of the poorest states in the US are southern states.
I’m paying attention to the money aspect because – as I’ve written before – the more money an area is perceived to have, the more likely it is that they’ll have higher quality stores… thereby offering higher quality foods. All you have to do is look at the strategic placement of Whole Foods in order to see that.
And really, the infrastructure (at least, in the areas where I’ve been) and sprawl in some of these places is terrible, and there are virtually no sidewalks. Walking (and, by relation, running) isn’t much encouraged out there.
“Adult obesity rates for Blacks topped 30% in 42 states.” Who’s got suggestions for what’s going on here?
Furthermore, “Rates of adult obesity among Latinos is above 35% in FOUR states, but it is at least 30% in TWENTY-THREE states?” So, in 23 states, the obesity rate is between 30-35%? Considering the little (teeny, tiny, miniscule) bit I know about Latino food and culture, I wonder if the quality of ingredients here – in comparison to what may be available in their country – plays a difference. Might be worth digging up, here.
“More than 33 percent of adults who earn less than $15,000 per year were obese, compared with 24.6 percent of those who earn at least $50,000 per year.”
Not gonna lie – I would’ve expected those numbers to be farther apart… but the fact that there’s only about a 9% difference is pretty telling to me.
I wonder if the quality of ingredients here – in comparison to what may be available in their country…
Excerpted from Statistics: Obesity By The Numbers | A Black Girl’s Guide To Weight Loss
I love your blog, but I have a tiny correction — this is “their country” too. Latin@ is not the same as first-generation immigrant.
Yes, this is their country, but is it the country of origin for their culture? I don’t think that I meant country of THEIR origin, as opposed to the origin of the culture from where their food traditions come, you know? I wonder how I could better word that to avoid confusion.
I figured that was what you meant, and I hate to be the politically-correct language police!
I live in Chicago, which is a very segregated city. I do know that there are some great produce markets with good-quality, cheap produce in many of the predominantly Latin@ communities. I know that the food deserts in the city are all in predominantly African American communities — and that at least in Chicago, food access is correlated to race but not income (food deserts in poor, working class, and middle class communities.) (If you are really curious about food deserts in Chicago, there are good study reports here http://www.marigallagher.com/projects/ — I am a teacher and therefore I’m particular about language and citing my sources.)
Oh and randomly, one interesting way to address food deserts are these people http://freshmoves.org/ — they retrofitted a city bus as a grocery store and have stops in the food desert on the West Side where I work. They also do education about food and nutrition, and I think they have a demo chef too to show customers what to do with their veggies!
I don’t mind at all! Correct info is far more important than my ego, LOLOL.
“and that at least in Chicago, food access is correlated to race but not income (food deserts in poor, working class, and middle class communities.)”
If I’m understanding this correctly, this is a pretty painful statement to read. Off hand, before I even click your links, I can’t help but wonder why.
I don’t know much about urban development or Chicago history — but I think it’s a fair assumption that there has been a lot of racism in terms of development and neglect of different communities. It makes me angry like crazy, which is one of the reasons why I teach about food deserts: my kids get mad too, and we can figure out what people are doing about it and how to help. The good news is, there are some super local interventions: the Fresh Moves bus, some spectacular community gardens (at least 13 in my school’s neighborhood alone), and an apiary right near my school, to name a few. I’m happy about all the community-based activism addressing food deserts, and I hope that it goes far enough to call out the institutionalized racism that contributes to making food deserts.
You are awesome. Gosh, I love my readership.
Awh, thanks. You’re pretty great yourself — keep up the good fight 🙂
I blame the rise of processed foods in the past 40 years for the rise of obesity in America. In the 60’s & 70’s, people didn’t have as much processed food. Even if you ate out, it wasn’t processed because a lot of the stuff wasn’t available until the early 70’s. Since then, corn derivatives have infiltrated almost all processed foods, and a lot of Americans made Mc-Drive-thru their kitchen of choice. Home Ec was taken out of schools, so working moms didn’t learn how to cook anything that wasn’t easy to thaw and serve. (They also don’t know how to repair or alter clothing). And people thought (and still think) their grandparents’ ways were old-fashioned and out of touch.
When you add to that places/cultures where exercise is frowned upon (Black women and hair to name one), or working multiple jobs so you’re too tired to think about eating cleanly and/or workout, or just no example, it makes sense. I have people asking me how can I possibly be happy eating collards, or turnip greens like a field hand. I answer it’s in season, I can afford it, and I like it. Can’t afford the Tuesday 2pc dark chicken snack for .99 at Church’s chicken. Too expensive on my health! Those old “fieldhands” were people who kept active and healthy and died of old age, not obesity related ailments.
I also believe we’ve become a country/culture of quick fixes. We want to lose weight without exercising, or we have to have a monetary reward and a trainer to motivate us. We want 30mins meals. We love drive-thru food joints. We want to grow rich in our sleep with “No money down”. We would even rather watch “real” people on Reality TV, than go out and live our lives. (Although I have to admit I like the Amazing Race, Top Chef, and Project Runway!). It’s a lousy way to live but people have become accustomed to it and to being fat. I mean look: you can get pills to manage your high blood pressure/high cholesterol/diabetes. You can get gel inserts to relieve the pain of your fat feet. You can get larger sized clothing almost everywhere! You can get fat burners, and water loss pills, and “ablungers” over the phone to gather dust. So it may not be comfortable, but being obese is manageable, and profitable in our country. Just sayin’…
Sorry Erika, but the latino cultures food is not all that bad . These foods have lasted for centuries being passed down from civilizations such as the aztecs, mayans, and spanish. All of the types of food that forms the latino diet along with manual labor,which is popular in el savador, guatemala , belize ,costa rica, panama, and mexico, kept obesity away from the culture. Apparently, the introduction to fast food to latinos brought on the obesity. Remember taco bell didn’t come from Mexico.
Let me try to clarify – I’m not referring to the food of the culture being bad – I’m speaking to the quality of ingredients. A prime example of this is the offerings and quality of tortillas available in America vs the quality of tortillas elsewhere. If your tradition consists of dishes made a certain way with certain ingredients, and your family migrates to a place where the quality of those ingredients is considerably poorer, you’re going to feel the effects. The same could be said of Italians and pasta – the quality of pasta offerings in Italy is FAR better than what’s available here ona grand scale. While I’m on it, the same could be said for Black soul food fare – the quality of the ingredients has changed over the course of 50-or-so years in this country with the advent of processed food, and has thereby changed the quality of what’s available and how the dishes affect our bodies. It’s not an indictment of the culture – it’s commentary on the change in quality.
I believe longer work hours and commutes help contribute to the increase obesity rates as well. It is easier to pick up something on $1 menu than stopping by the grocery store and preparing meals at home.
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