Americans Fatter in 37 States

Millions of Americans are watching our countrymen compete in the Olympics. But fewer and fewer of us bear any resemblance to those lean, fit figures.

The latest annual state-by-state obesity rankings don't paint a pretty picture:


  • Number of states in which adult obesity rates went up: 37

  • Number of states in which adult obesity rates went down: 0

  • Number of states in which adult obesity rates went up for the third year in a row: 19

  • Percentage of population that is obese in Colorado, this year's least obese state: 18.4

  • Percentage of population that was obese in the four most obese states in 1991: 15% to 20%

  • Number of states in which at least 1 in 4 adults is obese: 28

  • Number of states in which at least 1 in 5 adults was obese in 1991: 0


These are just a few of the shocking numbers in the fifth annual "F as in Fat" report from the nonprofit Trust for America's Health, with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Senior author of the report is Jeffrey Levi, PhD, executive director of Trust for America's Health and associate professor of health policy at George Washington University School of Public Health.

The report's state-by-state rankings find Mississippi, West Virginia, and Alabama to be the most obese states. Colorado, Hawaii, and Connecticut are the least obese states -- yet Colorado's obesity rate continues to climb toward 20% of adults, a level already surpassed by Hawaii and Connecticut.

"The crisis is getting worse," Levi said at a news conference. "The 2008 report shows some states and communities have taken positive steps, but overall we are not treating the obesity epidemic with the seriousness it deserves."

The most shocking figure in last year's report was that more than 30% of Mississippi adults were obese. This year, Mississippi's problem is even worse -- and now Alabama and West Virginia have adult obesity rates over 30%.

Obesity in the U.S. is less like a rising tide than like a hurricane surge, suggests James Marks, MD, MPH, senior vice president and director of the health group at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

"This is the fifth annual report, and with each and every year we see more evidence the obesity epidemic is gaining speed and destructive force," Marks said at the news conference.

Levi and Marks stress that a change in direction will take serious efforts from federal, state, and local governments; from corporations and small businesses; from communities; and from individuals. But they say none of this can come together without leadership from the top.

Without increased federal funding, Marks says, state and local programs will be hard pressed to continue effective programs.

"The resources devoted to improving the health of our families and our children remain too few and too ineffective," Marks said. "The federal government continues to cut its own effective programs. At the federal level, the only obesity number going down is the number of dollars being spent to end the epidemic."




State-by-State Adult Obesity Rankings



Here's a list of states and their three-year average of adult obesity from 2005 to 2007:


Alabama: Rank, 3 -- 30.1% of adults obese


Alaska: Rank, 14 -- 27.3% of adults obese


Arizona: Rank, 38 -- 23.3% of adults obese


Arkansas: Rank, 8 -- 28.1% of adults obese


California: Rank, 41 -- 23.1% of adults obese


Colorado: Rank, 51 -- 18.4% of adults obese


Connecticut: Rank, 49 -- 20.8% of adults obese


Delaware: Rank, 21 -- 25.9% of adults obese


D.C.: Rank, 43 -- 22.1% of adults obese


Florida: Rank, 38 -- 23.3% of adults obese


Georgia: Rank, 11 (tied with Indiana) -- 27.5% of adults obese

Hawaii: Rank, 50 -- 20.7% of adults obese


Idaho: Rank, 31 -- 24.6% of adults obese


Illinois: Rank, 26 -- 25.3% of adults obese


Indiana: Rank, 11 (tied with Georgia) -- 27.5% of adults obese


Iowa: Rank, 19 -- 26.3% of adults obese


Kansas: Rank, 23 -- 25.8% of adults obese


Kentucky: Rank, 7 -- 28.4% of adults obese


Louisiana: Rank, 4 -- 29.5% of adults obese


Maine: Rank, 34 -- 23.7% of adults obese


Maryland: Rank, 27 -- 25.2% of adults obese


Massachusetts: Rank, 48 -- 20.9% of adults obese


Michigan: Rank, 10 -- 27.7% of adults obese


Minnesota: Rank, 30 -- 24.8% of adults obese


Mississippi: Rank, 1 -- 31.7% of adults obese


Missouri: Rank, 13 -- 27.4% of adults obese


Montana: Rank, 45 -- 21.7% of adults obese


Nebraska: Rank, 18 -- 26.5% of adults obese


Nevada: Rank, 35 -- 23.6% of adults obese


New Hampshire: Rank, 35 -- 23.6% of adults obese


New Jersey: Rank, 42 -- 22.9% of adults obese


New Mexico: Rank, 38 -- 23.3% of adults obese


New York: Rank, 37 -- 23.5% of adults obese


North Carolina: Rank, 16 -- 27.1% of adults obese


North Dakota: Rank, 21 -- 25.9% of adults obese


Ohio: Rank, 17 -- 26.9% of adults obese


Oklahoma: Rank, 8 -- 28.1% of adults obese


Oregon: Rank, 29 -- 25.0% of adults obese


Pennsylvania: Rank, 24 -- 25.7% of adults obese


Rhode Island: Rank, 46 -- 21.4% of adults obese


South Carolina: Rank, 5 -- 29.2% of adults obese


South Dakota: Rank, 20 -- 26.1% of adults obese


Tennessee: Rank, 6 -- 29.0% of adults obese


Texas: Rank, 15 -- 27.2% of adults obese


Utah: Rank, 44 -- 21.8% of adults obese


Vermont: Rank, 47 -- 21.1% of adults obese


Virginia: Rank, 27 -- 25.2% of adults obese


Washington: Rank, 32 -- 24.5% of adults obese


West Virginia: Rank, 2 -- 30.6% of adults obese


Wisconsin: Rank, 25 -- 25.5% of adults obese


Wyoming: Rank, 33 -- 24.0% of adults obese




State-by-State Child Obesity Rankings



Here is an alphabetical list of states with rankings for child obesity (ages 10-17) in 2003-2004:


Alabama: Rank, 11 -- 16.7% of children obese


Alaska: Rank, 44 -- 11.1% of children obese


Arizona: Rank, 38 -- 12.2% of children obese


Arkansas: Rank, 12 -- 16.4% of children obese


California: Rank, 32 -- 13.2% of children obese


Colorado: Rank, 49 -- 9.9% of children obese


Connecticut: Rank, 37 -- 12.3% of children obese


Delaware: Rank, 19 --14.8 % of children obese


D.C.: Rank, 1 -- 22.8% of children obese


Florida: Rank, 21 -- 14.4% of children obese


Georgia: Rank, 12 -- 16.4% of children obese


Hawaii: Rank, 29 (tied with Maryland and Pennsylvania) -- 13.3% of children obese


Idaho: Rank, 47 (tied with Minnesota) -- 10.1% of children obese


Illinois: Rank, 14 -- 15.8% of children obese


Indiana: Rank, 15 -- 15.6% of children obese


Iowa: Rank, 35 -- 12.5% of children obese


Kansas: Rank, 24 -- 14.0% of children obese


Kentucky: Rank, 3 -- 20.6% of children obese


Louisiana: Rank, 9 -- 17.2% of children obese


Maine: Rank, 34 -- 12.7% of children bese


Maryland: Rank, 29 (tied with Hawaii and Pennsylvania) -- 13.3% of children obese


Massachusetts: Rank, 27 -- 13.6% of children obese


Michigan: Rank, 20 -- 14.5% of children obese


Minnesota: Rank, 47(tied with Idaho) -- 10.1% of children obese


Mississippi: Rank, 8 -- 17.8% of children obese


Missouri: Rank, 15 -- 15.6% of children obese


Montana: Rank, 44 -- 11.1% of children obese


Nebraska: Rank, 41 -- 11.9% of children obese


Nevada: Rank, 36 -- 12.4% of children obese


New Hampshire: Rank, 33 -- 12.9% of children obese


New Jersey: Rank, 26 -- 13.7% of children obese


New Mexico: Rank, 10 -- 16.8% of children obese


New York: Rank, 18 -- 15.3% of children obese


North Carolina: Rank, 5 -- 19.3% of children obese


North Dakota: Rank, 39 -- 12.1% of children obese


Ohio: Rank, 22 -- 14.2% of children obese


Oklahoma: Rank, 17 -- 15.4% of children obese


Oregon: Rank, 23 -- 14.1% of children obese


Pennsylvania: Rank, 29 (tied with Hawaii and Maryland) -- 13.3% of children obese


Rhode Island: Rank, 41 -- 11.9% of children obese


South Carolina: Rank, 7 -- 18.9% of children obese


South Dakota: Rank, 39 -- 12.1% of children obese


Tennessee: Rank, 4 -- 20.0% of children obese


Texas: Rank, 6 -- 19.1% of children obese


Utah: Rank, 51 -- 8.5% of children obese


Vermont: Rank, 43 -- 11.3% of children obese


Virginia: Rank, 25 -- 13.8% of children obese


Washington: Rank, 46 -- 10.8% of children obese


West Virginia: Rank, 2 -- 20.9% of children obese


Wisconsin: Rank, 28 -- 13.5% of children obese


Wyoming: Rank, 50 -- 8.7% of children obese



By Daniel DeNoon
Reviewed by Louise Chang
©2005-2008 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved

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