Adult Obesity Rates Up in 31 States; The South is The "BIGGEST BELT"

According to a new report from Trust for America's Health (TFAH), adult obesity rates continued to rise in 31 states over the past year.

In nationwide rankings, Mississippi was the heaviest state, with an adult obesity rate of 29.5%, followed by Alabama and West Virginia. Colorado was the least heavy state, with an adult obesity rate of 16.9%. Obesity rates remained the same in 18 states and Washington, D.C. All states fail to meet the national goal of reducing adult obesity levels to 15% or less by the year 2010.

Regionally, the South was found to be the "Biggest Belt" and is home to nine out of the 10 states with the highest obesity rates. The southern region is also home to nine of the 10 states with the highest rates of diabetes and hypertension, two major health problems often associated with obesity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly two-thirds of adult Americans are either overweight or obese. Childhood overweight rates have more than tripled from 1980 to 2004, from 5 to 17%.

Other key findings in the report include:

• West Virginia has the highest rate of type 2 diabetes among adults at 10.4 percent; Alaska has the lowest rate at 4.5 percent.

• Mississippi has the highest rate of hypertension among adults at 23.7 percent; Utah has the lowest rate at 19.8 percent.

• Eleven states require their school lunches to meet higher nutritional standards than U.S. Department of Agriculture requirements.

• Sixteen states and Washington, D.C., have passed taxes on junk food or sodas.

• Twenty-four states have passed laws limiting obesity-related law suits.

The full report with complete state rankings in all categories is available on TFAH’s Web site at The report was supported by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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