News on Wellness

Obesity in the United States Worse than Thought

ObesityFor the first time in history, the rate of obesity in the US has hit an all-time high. According to a new analysis just released, obesity increased in six states and for the remainder, there was no decline.

Federal government results of the study were reported by both the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust for America’s Health. The information gathered suggests the problem of obesity in America is not getting better but getting worse even though the public has been informed of an existing epidemic through numerous programs, to include First Lady, Michelle Obama.

In 2013, the rate of obesity exceeded 20% for all states, with 42 of those being more than 25%. After studying the first two states, Mississippi and West Virginia, researchers found a rise in obesity by 35%. In comparison, the rate in 13 states for 2014 indicated an increase of 30% or more, with 41 states at a minimum of 25%.

States with a definite rise in the rate of obesity specific to adults included Alaska, Idaho, Tennessee, Delaware, and New Jersey. Nationally, obesity stayed at about 33% for adults while just slightly more than 65% were deemed overweight or worse, according to The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America.

For children, obesity rates in 2012 leveled off. According to the study, approximately one in every three children aged 2 to 19 were overweight or obese, similar to rates from the past 10 years.

It was also found that states in the South had the highest rates of obesity while those in the Northeast and West had the best Body Mass Indexes, (BMI) while Colorado came in with the lowest rate of obesity for adults at 21.3%. BMI is a formula used to determine body mass, calculated by dividing weight by height. Obesity is defined by a BMI of 30 or more while overweight is a BMI of 25 to 29.9.

Demographics were also included in the study of obesity, showing the highest rates correlated with poverty. This is because people at or below the poverty level do not have access of healthier foods and they lack exercise to include walking and jogging due to living in unsafe environments. As an example, when comparing African Americans to Caucasians, the rate of being overweight or obese was 75% to 62.2% respectively.

The same pattern impacts children. In 2012, only 8% of children of African American descent between ages 2 and 19 were severely obese, meaning they had a BMI of 40 or higher. Comparatively, Caucasian children had a rate of obesity at just 3.9%. Currently, about 38% of African American children live below the poverty line whereas only 12% of Caucasian children do.

Another finding was that 33% of adults earning $15,000 or less annually are obese compared to 33% earning a minimum of $50,000. As stated by Jeffrey Levi, executive director of The Fair Housing Act (TFAH), the current rates of obesity are simply unacceptable and that the inconsistencies in rates are extremely disturbing.

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