According to a new report, obesity rates in some states have gone up in the past year, and Arkansas leads the way.
"The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America," by the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), reports that adult obesity rates have gone up in Kansas, Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio and Utah. No states have seen a decrease in obesity rates among adults. The situation, according to a statement from TFAH, is pretty dire:
In 1980, no state had a rate above 15 percent, and in 1991, no state had a rate above 20. Now, nationally, more than 30 percent of adults, nearly 17 percent of 2 to 19 year olds and more than 8 percent of children ages 2 to 5 are obese.
Arkansas' obesity rate is closely followed by West Virginia and Mississippi. The states with the highest percentage of obese adults breaks down as follows:
1. Arkansas: 35.9%
2. West Virginia: 35.7%
3. Mississippi: 35.5%
4. Louisiana: 34.9%
5. Alabama: 33.5%
6. Oklahoma: 33%
7. Indiana: 32.7%
8. Ohio: 32.6%
9. North Dakota: 32.2%
10. South Carolina: 32.1%
The states with the lowest rate of obese adults, on the other hand, are:
1. Colorado: 21.3%
2. Washington, D.C.: 21.7%
3. Hawaii: 22.1%
4. Massachusetts: 23.3%
5. California: 24.7%
6. Vermont: 24.8%
7. Utah: 25.7%
8. Florida: 26.2%
9. Connecticut: 26.39%
10. Montana: 26.4%
TFAH adds that most of the states with the highest rate of adult obesity are in the South or Midwest:
Obesity was also found to be heavily linked to poverty in the report, which found that more than 33% of adults who make less than $15,000 annually are obese. That figure drops to 24.6% for adults who earn $50,000 or more per year.
And, according to the report, black Americans are more likely to be obese than their white counterparts, by 38%—nationally, 47.8% of black adults are obese, compared to 32.6% of white adults. Latino adults also see a higher rate (42.5%) of obesity compared to their white counterparts.
It should come as no surprise that poor, minority adults are more susceptible to obesity. From the report:
Black and Latino families spend around $10 per person per week less on food ($40) compared to White families ($50). ZIP codes with the highest concentration of Blacks have about half the number of chain supermarkets as ZIP codes with the highest concentration of Whites, and ZIP codes with the highest concentrations of Latinos have only one-third as many. Many of these same neighborhoods also are struggling with high rates of obesity, unemployment and depressed economies.
A slight silver lining: some states have reported declining rates of childhood obesity in certain districts, counties, and cities.
Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.