Obesity Rates Highest In Southern States

(CNN) -- The Southern states of the U.S. have some of the highest rates of obesity in the country, according to a new report from the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The report found that adult obesity rates rose in 28 states over the past year, with Washington, D.C. as the only area that showed a decline. Ten out of 11 states with the highest rates are located in the South; Mississippi has the highest for the sixth year in a row.

Income disparities may contribute to this trend of obesity being prevalent in the South, said Angela Glover Blackwell, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of PolicyLink. The issue of access and affordability of healthy food is also a factor, said Dr. James Marks, senior vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The analysis, "F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2010" is the seventh annual report on obesity from these organizations. The newest report looked at average rates from 2007 to 2009, compared to 2006 to 2008.

Obesity rates are above 25 percent in 38 states, and above 30 percent in eight states. Back in 1991, no state had an obesity rate above 20 percent, and the national average was only 15 percent in 1980.

In 12 states, the number of adults who say they do not engage in any physical activity rose. Washington D.C. and two states had declines in this area.

Diabetes rates have gone up 19 percent in adults in the past year, the report found. Diabetes and hypertension are strongly associated with obesity.

The report found a strong association between socioeconomic status and adult obesity rates. About 35 percent of those earning less than $15,000 a year were obese, compared to 24.5 percent of adults earning $50,000 or more per year.

There are also racial disparities in the picture of obesity in the U.S. Blacks and latinos have higher obesity rates than whites in nearly every state.

More than one third of children and teens are obese or overweight, even though over 80 percent of parents believe that their children are of normal weight.

"We're in danger of raising the first generation who could live sicker and die younger than the generation before them," said Marks.

But there are signs of progress, he said. Twenty states and Washington D.C. have nutritional standards for school lunches that are stricter than USDA standards. There are also 20 states that have passed requirements for body mass index assessments or other weight evaluations in schools.

Policy interventions that experts think about on the community level address adults as well as kids, said Jeff Levi, executive director of Trust for America's Health. Making supermarkets more readily available, reducing the number of fast food restaurants, and redesigning neighborhoods to create more opportunities for exercise would be positive interventions for both adults and children, he said.

Here's the states with highest rates:

1. Mississippi (33.8%) 2. Alabama (31.6%) tied with Tennessee (31.6%) 4. West Virginia (31.3%) 5. Louisiana (31.2%) 6.Oklahoma (30.6%) 7. Kentucky (30.5%) 8. Arkansas (30.1%) 9. South Carolina (29.9%) 10. Michigan (29.4%) tied with North Carolina (29.4%)

The-CNN-Wire/Atlanta
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  • by Anonymous on Mar 15, 2011 at 06:20 AM
    For people with an average daily calorie consumption, you need only to walk about 30 minutes a day to keep your weight in check. That's all. To lose it, of course, is a bit more challenging, however keeping it off really doesn't have to be that difficult. I lost nearly 50 pounds gradually and the only thing I did really was cut calories by about 500 a day and, at first, walked about an hour a day and then cut back to about 30 minutes of light to moderate exercise. The best exercise is that which you enjoy and can stick with whether that be walking, running, cycling, tennis, basketball, etc. Plus, you can see a real improvement in blood pressure, heart rate and cholesterol, as well, with just a little extra effort.
  • by Audra Location: SoCal on Jul 6, 2010 at 08:50 PM
    To "BBQ Hmmmrrmph" (wth is that?) You know.. you can eat BBQ, and any other food in moderation and it's fine. Nothing unhealthy about collard greens either. You lambast food types as though the food is at fault. I see more fat people in CA than in NC, so everyone freaking out about the southern diet just needs to stop. The "thin" people in this area are so skinny it's gross... they look like meth addicts and think that's attractive. :-P Who wants to look emaciated? Please. You have perfectly decent food there and fewer people sucked up into the idea of preserved garbage loaded w/ preservatives and other chemicals. A lot of people in your area cook real meals like I do, at home. Maybe you need to look around at the positives of that area and stop being so self-depricating. You have a lot to be grateful for.
  • by oh Location: yea on Jul 2, 2010 at 06:03 AM
    I like to fly on commerical flights! Because I can tilt the plane when I board and My favorit seat is in the tail section so I can hear the plane scrape the ground taking off!
  • by To "NYY" on Jul 1, 2010 at 03:11 PM
    Agree 100%. However, you forgot to mention salt as the second food group in the southern diet. Obesity and high blood pressure helps keep the docs at Easy U Med School employed!
  • by NYY on Jun 30, 2010 at 10:27 PM
    That is because southern bumpkins eat nothing but grease! You people disgust me!!
  • by Sam Location: Kitty Hawk on Jun 30, 2010 at 08:29 AM
    This does not surprise me. I'm happy to not be close to that condition. I like some fried foods and barbecue, but only eat those things every now and then. I take my body seriously.
  • by BBQ..HMMMRRMMPH Location: Williamston on Jun 29, 2010 at 08:09 PM
    Omg! I just ate a ton of collards alongide about half a pig ; Omg Im stuffed ; Nothin like goin on home turnin on thee ole box and watchin witn right before I take my insulin shot. Cant wait to digest that pig so I can go to bojangles first thing in the morning for my CAT HEAD BISCUIT!!! Burp!
  • by Anonymous on Jun 29, 2010 at 03:00 PM
    Best food!
  • by give me Location: grease on Jun 29, 2010 at 01:30 PM
    I like it on toast,2lb please! Fried chicken,oakra,fries,hamburger,eggs&bacon 8lb please! SUPER SIZE MY SHORTS and when I die they will run out of gas for the incinerator. No love for the body
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