Adult obesity rates exceed 30% in 12 states, with a "fat belt" across the South, according to a new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust for America's Health.
The report is based on 2011 state-by-state obesity data from CDC, which include adults' self-reported height and weight. However, the rate of obesity—defined by a body mass index of 30 or higher in adults—is likely higher than statistics indicate, given respondents' tendency to under-report their weight.
According to the report, the South has the highest percentage of obese adults at 29.5%, followed by the Midwest at 29%, the Northeast at 25.3% and the West at 24.3%. No state has an obesity rate lower than 20%, the data show.
The states with the highest obesity rates are:
- Mississippi (34.9%);
- Louisiana (33.4%);
- West Virginia (32.4%);
- Alabama (32%); and
- Michigan (31.3%).
The states with the lowest obesity rates are:
- Colorado (20.7%);
- Hawaii (21.8%);
- Massachusetts (22.7%);
- The District of Columbia and New Jersey (23.7%); and
- California (23.8%).
The latest figures cannot be compared with prior years because of changes in methodology. However, the agency noted that no matter which measures are used "the obesity epidemic is still a major health problem" (MacVean, "Booster Shots," Los Angeles Times, 8/13; Simpson, Reuters, 8/13; AP/Sacramento Bee, 8/13; Hellmich, USA Today, 8/13).
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