America's Obesity Epidemic Getting Worse, Study Finds

Over the past year, adult obesity rates have continued to rise in more than thirty states, while government policy efforts have failed to effectively address the growing crisis, a new report from the Trust for America's Health (TFAH) finds.

The third in a series of annual TFAH-produced reports that examine state obesity rates and government policies, F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies Are Failing America, 2006 (75 pages, PDF) offers recommendations to check the obesity crisis, including a twenty-step action plan designed to address the healthcare burdens and financial costs associated with the epidemic. Among its recommendations, the plan urges a comprehensive approach to the crisis that enlists the support of families, communities, schools, employers, the food industry, health professionals, and state and federal governments.

Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the report also ranks the prevalence of obesity by state, with Mississippi and its adult obesity rate of 29.5 percent at the top of the list, followed by Alabama and West Virginia; Colorado, with an adult obesity rate of 16.9 percent, weighs in as the least heavy state. Regionally, the "biggest belt" is the South, home to nine out of the ten heaviest states, which also reported the highest rates of diabetes and hypertension, both major health problems associated with obesity.

The report also identifies the three biggest barriers to effectively addressing obesity: inadequate funding of health initiatives; the view that obesity is a personal responsibility issue; and the lack of political will to solve the problem. "Quick fixes and limited government programs have failed to stem the tide," said TFAH executive director Jeff Levi. "Government must step up and provide sustainable funding for sound, long-term policies that produce significant results."

"America's Obesity Epidemic Getting Worse." Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Press Release 08/29/2006.