Get Moving: Americans more obese than ever

Discouraging news from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Americans are more obese than ever.

Percent of Obese (BMI > 30) in U.S. Adults (CDC chart)

More than one in four American adults is not just overweight, but obese.

Nine states now have obesity rates of 30 percent or higher, and 33 states have obesity rates of 25 percent or higher.

Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater. Overweight is considered a BMI of 25 and above. (Calculate your BMI.)

For comparison, back in 2000 no states had an obesity rate above 30 percent.

States with the highest obesity rates were Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and West Virginia.

Who fared better? Colorado at 18.6 percent (see that lone patch of blue in the map above), followed by the District of Columbia (19.7%), Connecticut (20.6%), Massachusetts (21.4%), and Hawaii (22.3%).

Overall rates were lower among young adults 18-29 (20.3%), college grads (20.8%), adults in the Northeast (24.3%) and West (24.4%), and non-Hispanic Whites (25.2%).

See where your state falls:

Read the CDC report: Vital Signs: State-Specific Obesity Prevalence Among Adults -- United States, 2009

Then go take a hike, walk, or run outside. Bring along a friend, neighbor, or co-worker. It won't solve the obesity epidemic alone, but it's a start.

Have suggestions for countering this daunting and complex trend? Share them below.

Filed under: People & Organizations


0 reviewer rep
3 forum posts
October 19, 2010 at 12:03 p.m. (EDT)

I have a couple of suggestions. 

1. Keep soda away from our kids.  No soda vending machines in schools, camps etc.  Don't even allow it in schools.  Yes, I am putting a burden on our education system to not only teach our children in science class about the food pyramid but practice it in the halls and lunchroom.  Feed our kids healthy food in school and ban garbage there.

2. Un-plug.  My kids were watching Nickelodeon some Sat. weeks ago and they said they were going dark for 4 hours so kids would go outside and play.  I showed my daughter - the repeating message on the screen.  "You have to go out and play now, the TV says so!"

3. For those who need extra motivation - how about ultra taxing foods and drinks that make us fat?  It's a radical idea but we do it for cigarettes because no matter how much anyone might like them we know they are just terrible for all of us.  So let's tax fattening foods and drinks to the point of making them real luxury items as opposed to standard daily fare.

4. Corporate sponsored exercise time.  Companies could impact this epidemic hugely if they gave employees time each day to go for a walk, run etc.  They give a lunch break and other kinds of breaks - make it part of the company culture to get your employees exercising every day.  Years ago when I worked in Japan this was the reality.  It was calisthenics and it only lasted five minutes but it was something.  

Would love to see any or all of these things happen!

14 reviewer rep
318 forum posts
October 19, 2010 at 3:50 p.m. (EDT)

Watch your consumption of high fructose corn syrup. It is in everything at the store. Breads, Soda, Cereal you name it and it is in there. If you look hard enough you can find products without it. 

It is a product made from Genetically Modified corn. A Law was passed not that long ago. It allowed companies to get patents on life. Now many of the products in the food supply (as much as 90% in the U.S.) are modified in one way or another. I personally don't think companies owning patents on life is a good idea.

If there is a connection between GMO's and obese people. America may never connect the dots as labeling GMOs in the stores is being fought off by very powerful interests.

I say label the GMO's so data can be collected. It is in the foods so by law it should be on the label already. The genetic structure has been tampered with.

Exercise is a good thing also, but you wouldn't coming to a outdoors website if you didn't already know that.

Oldman Mike
584 reviewer rep
170 forum posts
October 24, 2010 at 3:14 p.m. (EDT)

I feel number 1 is soda, then fast food, and TV.  I will not give up my coffee with sweet and low and none dairy creamer.  I also feel the computer is great but also causes problems with games of all kinds.  It is easy to put on weight but very hard to take off.  I found hiking which I enjoy a lot, this is my foundation for a better life.

D&G in the Smokys
75 reviewer rep
306 forum posts
October 24, 2010 at 10:04 p.m. (EDT)

I think that too many people are just plain LAZY!  That is what a cure needs to be found for.  Too often do I hear kids saying that walking, running, swimming, hiking, anything physical is "too hard" and they would rather sit and text all day long while eating Cheetohs and watching crap TV.  I personally don't have the healthiest diet, but I get out and get off my bum to stay in shape.

I do have one thing negative about the BMI is very misleading.  For those that have a lot of muscle mass and aren't particularly tall,  it calls them obese.  Per the BMI I have been all the way up to 32%, however at the time I had less than 9% body fat.  Hmmm, how does that work out?

52 reviewer rep
200 forum posts
October 25, 2010 at 10:44 a.m. (EDT)

I do think diet is part of the problem, but I'm not prepared to vilify substances like some. Substances are inanimate objects which must be consumed by creatures who have a choice in that consumption. They also have a choice in what they do in the time before and after that consumption, which is arguably the bigger problem.

I make these comments as one who is representative of the problem. I can't blame soda or french fries or computers or air conditioning for my physical fitness. The blame lies squarely with me. Take note, those of you who seem satisfied blaming Monsanto, McDonalds, or Coca-Cola.

D&G in the Smokys
75 reviewer rep
306 forum posts
October 25, 2010 at 4:32 p.m. (EDT)

Well, said Yock, I feel the same way as you should have (hopefully) been able to tell.  No one these days takes responsibility for their own actions, there is always someone/thing else that is to blame.  How sad.

Alicia MacLeay (Alicia)
848 reviewer rep
3,901 forum posts
November 17, 2010 at 3:34 p.m. (EST)

Update on this topic:

According to an article by Wendy Geister I recently read in SNEWS, we haven't even hit the obesity peak yet in America. We may get fatter and fatter for 40 more years.

Mathematical modeling projects that 40 years from now 42 percent of adults will be obese (they studied 40 years of Framingham Heart Study data and published in the PLoS Computational Biology journal).

Then there's the research about obesity being contagious.

"Our analysis suggests that while people have gotten better at gaining weight since 1971, they haven't gotten any better at losing weight. Specifically, the rate of weight gain due to social transmission has grown quite rapidly," according to lead author Alison L. Hill, a graduate student in Harvard's Program for Evolutionary Dynamics, Biophysics Program, and at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology.

Obesity rate is affected by:

  • personal factors like diet and exercise
  • the rate at which obese people lose weight
  • and person-to-person contact through social networks,

Being in contact with obese people creates a ripple effect of obesity among non-obese peers.

After analyzing 40 years of data from 7,500 people in the 62-year-old Framingham Heart Study, researchers found the average person has a 2 percent chance of becoming obese in any given year, due to personal factors such as an unhealthy diet or lack of exercise. That chance increases by 0.5 percent for every obese family member, friend or coworker a person has regular contact with, the study said.

An obese person has a 4 percent chance of losing enough weight to no longer be considered obese in any given year, the study said.

"Maybe it's mimicking behavior or adopting similar lifestyles, or changing what you consider to be a normal and acceptable weight for yourself based on the weight of people around you," Hill said in the report. "It's most likely to be some social influence."

Alicia MacLeay (Alicia)
848 reviewer rep
3,901 forum posts
November 17, 2010 at 4:55 p.m. (EST)

I'll add that I agree we are all responsible for the choices we make.

I find it interesting and necessary to consider the science and influencing factors at work though. I think the obesity issue is complex on the individual and societal level...and pretty scary.

However, even if there are outside factors at work, and even if we can't control all of those factors, there are other factors we can control. So you still have to take responsibility for yourself and your family.

If everyone opted to exercise and eat well most of the time, we'd all be a lot better off.

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