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Survey: America's Getting Fatter (But There's Good News!)

By , SparkPeople Blogger
DailySpark readers, we have an emergency on our hands. It's time to Spread the Spark, stat!

This year's state-by-state obesity statistics are in, and the news isn't good.
Here are some of the highlights of the report, published by the research group Trust for America's Health:

  • Adult obesity rates increased in 23 states and did not decrease in a single state in the past year

  • The percentage of obese or overweight children is at or above 30 percent in 30 states.

  • Mississippi had the highest rate of adult obesity at 32.5 percent, making it the fifth year in a row that the state topped the list.

  • Four states now have rates above 30 percent, including Mississippi, Alabama (31.2 percent), West Virginia (31.1 percent), and Tennessee (30.2 percent).

  • Eight of the 10 states with the highest percentage of obese adults and the highest rates of obese and overweight children are in the South.

  • Colorado continued to have the lowest percentage of obese adults at 18.9 percent.

  • Adult obesity rates now exceed 25 percent in 31 states and exceed 20 percent in 49 states and Washington, D.C.

  • Two-thirds of American adults are either obese or overweight.

  • In 1991, no state had an obesity rate above 20 percent.

  • In 1980, the national average for adult obesity was 15 percent.

  • Sixteen states experienced an increase for the second year in a row, and 11 states experienced an increase for the third straight year.

  • Mississippi also had the highest rate of obese and overweight children (ages 10 to 17) at 44.4 percent.

  • Minnesota and Utah had the lowest rate at 23.1 percent.

  • Childhood obesity rates have more than tripled since 1980.

The report says that the economic downtown could worsen the obesity epidemic. Food prices are expected to keep rising as social services and food pantries are increasingly stretched thin. The recession is expected to lead to higher rates of depression, anxiety and stress--all of which are linked to obesity.

Still, there was a bright side:
  • Nineteen states now have nutritional standards for school lunches, breakfasts and snacks that are stricter than current USDA requirements. Five years ago, only four states had legislation requiring stricter standards.

  • Twenty-seven states have nutritional standards for competitive foods sold a la carte, in vending machines, in school stores or in school bake sales. Five years ago, only six states had nutritional standards for competitive foods.

  • Twenty states have passed requirements for body mass index (BMI) screenings of children and adolescents or have passed legislation requiring other forms of weight-related assessments in schools. Five years ago, only four states had passed screening requirements.

  • A recent analysis commissioned by TFAH found that the Baby Boomer generation has a higher rate of obesity compared with previous generations. As the Baby Boomer generation ages, obesity-related costs to Medicare and Medicaid are likely to grow significantly because of the large number of people in this population and its high rate of obesity. And, as Baby Boomers become Medicare-eligible, the percentage of obese adults age 65 and older could increase significantly. Estimates of the increase in percentage of obese adults range from 5.2 percent in New York to 16.3 percent in Alabama.

Jeffrey Levi, the executive director of the group that published the survey, spoke to USA Today:
"If we want kids to eat healthier food, we have to invest the money for school nutrition programs so that school lunches are healthier," he said. "If we want people to be more physically active, then there have to be safe places to be active. That's not just a class issue. We've designed suburban communities where there are no sidewalks for anybody to go out and take a walk."

It's not just a question of having the right resources. It's about taking advantage of them, as you do everyday, and making the most out of what you have.

Many of us write on the Message Boards and in Teams that we face challenges every day of our healthy journeys. Someone brought in doughnuts and you're tempted to ditch your oatmeal. You don't have time to work out today. Money is tight so you have to quit the gym.

But you don't give up. You don't complain.

You ask for help, you seek suggestions, and you take advice from other members.

And you succeed.

This report wasn't good news, no doubt about it. While we (as a nation) need to try harder, remember that in our little corner of the world (SparkPeople), we're succeeding, we're bucking the trend, and we're winning the battle against obesity, one SparkPoint and one pound at a time!

So let's go out there and Spread the Spark!

How do you think we should address the obesity epidemic?

How did your state fare? Is your state one of the "best" or one of the "worst"?

Do you live in one of those communities without sidewalks?

How do you think we, as SparkPeople members, can combat the obesity epidemic?

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I live in Missouri, which ranks 13th for adults and 23rd for youth. The one good piece of news I found in the study for my state is that the rates did not increase over the past year. We may not be reducing the number of obese people here, but at least our numbers held steady and did not increase.

The community I live in does have sidewalks in most areas, but I am a little bit disappointed that so few of our parks offer walkilng trails. Much of our park land is dedicated to athletic fields, which is good in that it encourages youth activities, but as a result, they aren't very older-adult friendly. We do have a recreation center, but even for residents, the programs there are somewhat expensive. People with limited income would be hard pressed to take advantage of them. I think it would be helpful if those rates were lowered and if the city would invest some money in walking trails with fitness stations.

I also think that there needs to be more emphasis on nutrition education. I also feel very strongly that the school lunch program needs to focus on healthy foods. The school district here also offers a "healthy breakfast" program, which is a total joke. Their idea of a "healthy" breakfast is offering a donut and a half-pint carton of whole milk for $1.

I'm not a huge proponent of government regulations, but perhaps the food industry should have standards to meet. If the amount of calories and fats in fast foods gives you the shivers, try taking a look at the sodium content. Most restaurant foods contain more than half the daily recommended amount. I have found salads in restaurants that contain more than 1,800 mg of sodium! Why???

I also think that there should be more stringent requirements in terms of what grocery items food stamps can be used to purchase. Take ice cream, cookies, soda, etc. off the list of allowable items and that food stamp money will have to go to rice, dried beans, fresh vegetables, fruits, meat and staple items.

Spark People members can lead by example and can Spread the Spark. People need to know that there is a free resource available. People on low incomes may not have computers and Internet accesss, but these resources are available in most public libraries and a large number of schools. That may be an area where Spark People could expand it's reach - finding ways to help people who do not have computer access. Perhaps volunteer guest lecturers visiting schools? Perhaps local Spark teams could have regular meetings where they can pass on information to people who can't go online every day to track their nutrition? Report
look what kids are taught at school(.home) sit down and be quiet. quit squirming. they aren't being told go out and play. some places are way to dangerous to let them go outside. I live in a town that has few sidewalks. Don't forget the old adage "clean your plate'! My mom never forced us to do that. Her motto was take what you are going to eat that way you don't waste any food. Report
New York isn't the worst (24.5%), but it isn't the best. *sigh* It's a BIG state (bigger than most people realize), and NYC takes up a good portion of the population numbers... I'd love to see the stats divided into NYC metro area and the rest of the state. I bet the difference would be drastic. :)

My biggest obstacle right now is that I live in a neighborhood with no sidewalks. I still go for my walk, but in certain areas I have to be careful -- particularly on the hairpin zig-zag in the middle of the road my street branches from. They also need to put up more speed limit signs, so people realize the limit is 30. There are a few people (particularly a turquoise GrandAm *ahem*) that are most certainly NOT traveling at 30 mph. More like 45. With no sidewalk, and only a narrow gutter of asphalt, it can get hairy. I hope to get a treadmill soon, not only for the colder weather, but also for my own safety. Report
My state has got to be the worst...........Oklahoma. When my family moved here from Kansas I was shocked. No sidewalks and sooooooooo many obese people. Especially in the schools. The town we moved from had sidewalks, walking parks, two huge (and cost friendly) facilities to work out and swim in. The schools also had an incredible food program: salad bars in EVERY school! We were so healthy there. Here the school menues are loaded with fat, there are very few sidewalks to walk on (certainly none in our neighborhood) and there are no facilities to work out and swim in within 10 miles. It's a hassle. And my weight has exploded. And even though the town I live in might not be "health" friendly, I am making changes to my own ideas of what it takes to get in shape and be healthy. I want to feel good again. I want to be able to play with my 1 1/2 yr. old son like I'm a kid myself. And step by step (with no sidewalks!) I'm getting closer to my goal. Report
I work at our local hospital and we now have a "store room" for bariatric equipment - something we never had to have before. It is time to come together and I believe Spark People has started a revolution and a great one at that. It will be interesting to see how we are doing 10 years from now. We now need to start lobbying for downsizing all the "super sizing" that is
contributing to our nations upsizing! Report
We have sidewalks everywhere even if its not so crowded with apartments. We also have walking paths thruout the city and on the outskirts of the city in a park thats been going green and has a house with fish and native animals in it. The park has been redone to go walking on either side of the river. There are bridges to get across at 3 mile makers. We have a famous falls where people go to swim and 2 YMCA's for a small town, not too small. We keep active where I live. Report
A lot of users have commented that junk food is cheaper than healthy food. On the surface, this statement is true. Archimedes specifically said that a box of frosted flakes is cheaper than a pound of red peppers. But corn flakes are even cheaper than frosted flakes, especially since these are more likely to be made by off-brands. Other cereals that contain little to no sugar are also available off-brand and are very cheap. If you really need sugar on your cereal, it's still cheaper to buy the corn flakes and a pound of sugar and put the sugar on yourself. As for the red peppers, don't buy any more fast food. The money you save from this will buy a mountain of red peppers!!

As a cashier, I see so many customers come into the store where I work buying frozen TV dinners and pizzas with their food stamps. They also buy whole milk, junk cereal, ice cream, cookies, and soda. They all claim that healthy food is too expensive. But they could make their food stamp money stretch farther by buying skim milk (whole milk is always more expensive), the ingredients to make their own cookies (because who really makes a box of Oreos last a week like it should if you only ate a serving size at a time), non-sugary cereal or oatmeal, and *gasp* NOT buy the soda and ice cream!!

Now let's break down TV dinners.
* A Banquet leg and thigh chicken TV dinner - $2 each
$8 for a family of four.

*A bag of frozen chicken legs and thighs (8 legs and 8 thighs) on sale - $6
*A whole can of corn - 50 cents
*A 5 lbs. bag of potatoes - $2
Total - $8.50
BUT! You certainly won't use all of the potatoes for one meal. So all-in-all, the homemade dinner is cheaper AND healthier.

It takes some time to really look for the deals, but they're there!! And yes, cooking takes time, and people say they don't have enough of it. But if you have time to watch TV at night, you have time to cook. If you don't want to miss your shows, turn up the volume and listen to it or move a small TV into the kitchen. Also, you don't always have to stand over your stove, staring at a pot of water as if it will make it boil faster. Stay in the kitchen to make sure nothing burns or catches on fire, and sort through mail, write a letter (or a draft of one if you don't want nice stationary to get dirty), balance your checkbook, pay a bill, or wash dishes as they appear so you don't have to spend another hour after dinner cleaning up. If you'd rather spend time with your kids than cook, have them help you. Depending on their age they might even be able to make the whole meal themselves. So if you're having a busy day, but they're only playing video games, make them do (you're the parent, so you do have the power, no matter how much they whine).

There are so many ways to eat healthier. You just have to stop making excuses and do it! Report
In my opinion it all starts at home. If we set a poor example for our children they will continue to eat poorly all through life. In many cases we, the adults, enable our children to become obese, we drive them everywhere, and allow them to sit in front of the TV or a computer. If we limit the amount of "junk" food our kids eat they will develop good eating habits. Yes restaurant portions are too big but we are not forced to eat out. We have to take responsibility for our actions. All the laws in the world are not going to make you eat healthy food, that is a choice only you can make, just as it is your choice to start moving or to sit on the couch and "zone out." Report
honestly i'm not shocked by the south being that big. my whole family (along with my inlaws) have always lived in the south. my family tends to cook more on the healthy side (history of heart problems) but most southern families do alot of frying and toppings on every ie gravy etc. my husband loves to eat like that. while it is tradition, its one i don't want to bring into my family and i would much rather my children live without Report
I live in Alabama. We rank terribly (in everything!) 2nd in adult obesity at 31.2%, 6th in childhood obesity at 36.1%. Thank goodness for Mississippi or we'd be worst in everything (LOL! no offense!)
The fitness habits and food choices around here are deplorable. I have been as guilty as anyone. My neighborhood has no streetlights, no sidewalks, and there is always a shortage of law enforcement officers on duty. That's every small town and out-of-town area in the state. If you do live in a city with those things, odds are crime is so high you're afraid to let your kids out (and it's much worse other places I know). The school lunches here are appalling, and have been for 30 years. I walk in my neighborhood when it's daylight, and I rarely see many kids out. Maybe 5-10% of those in the neighborhood (and there's a lot). What are they doing? Playstation, Facebook, World of Warcraft. Whatever show marathon on TV. Eating chips and drinking Cokes. They might eat vegetables at dinner. Deep fried and covered in cheese.
'nuf soapbox, more cowbell! Report
I have often felt that school lunches have been so unhealthy, one day my son said that the breadsticks and cheese that they were supposed to have were nothing more than hot dog buns and cheese. Are you kidding me? And what kind of healthy lunch is breadsticks and cheese. When I was in school we had true meals made by the ladies in the lunchroom, and it seems like it was cheaper. Now most meals are some premade preserved thing that they just heat up and serve. I just don't see how those meals can be healthy. I could easily go on about each reason for widespread obesity but it would be a very long response. Report
The obesity epidemic is a modern day problem. 55 years ago, kids actually had CHORES, they were constantly on the move, it was very rare to see an obese kid. Matter of fact, I have looked at my grammar school group photos, and there are NO FAT kids in the pictures, NONE, NADA!!!

Today, schools have eliminated P.E., the one time a kid might actually get some exercise. They ride everywhere today, rarely walk, or use a bike...(not cool)...they are into video games, and watching TV, and eating super-sized meals at fast food places.

Others here have mentioned that it is the cheap foods that are fattening...and that is so were we BLIND when they started to SUPERSIZE those meals??? And restaurants, YES, they bring WAY TOO MUCH FOOD for ONE person!

This article is SO good, and SUCH an eye opener!!!!
As a nurse I am taking care of folk who come in for Gastric Bypass surgery, another modern day side effect of the obesity epidemic. Problem with this surgery....side effects....who knows what we are spawning for the future by taking this drastic route.

The worse of it, is that people actually think that surgery will CURE their obesity, when that is NOT what they need. They need to change what they eat, and they need to exercise!!!!

God help us if we don't make some real changes soon.... Report
It shocks me to hear how quickly obesity rates have risen, but when I look at the lifestyle promoted by American culture I must admit we had it coming. Mom's went off to work and stopped cooking dinner. Fast and prepared foods became the norm for dinner, and school lunches replaced homemade ones as campuses "closed." The food in California public schools is about like eating at a WaWa and recess and PE have been replaced with academics. We don't let kids play outside, and when we do it is in overly structured games that just don't motivate everyone. Soccer practice at 4 years old is enough to make any kid think that "play" means "something mom makes me do."
Now I'm not suggesting that women stop working (I'm not in grad school to learn to change diapers) or we send our babies outside to play on the freeway, but if we want to fix the obesity problem in this nation we will need to consider the cultural factors that made us this way, not mandate BMI testing in schools.
I expected news like this, which is unfortunate. I live in CA now but will move to WA soon. CA rated better than its northern neighbors of OR and WA. However, I think the north will be better for my exercise since the weather is much cooler. My biggest issue is the cost of food and lack of government aid. My unemployment checks usually cover 3/4 of the expenses. I had food stamps but they were severely reduced when my unemployment checks came, then eliminated because I signed the paperwork a day too early. I have had to charge a lot to credit cards just to maintain a healthy diet. Sure, i could get loads of Ramen and other junk foods for dirt cheap but they are so bad for the body. It's unfair what the government subjects us to. I am glad that schools are finally making meals healthier. My elementary school was fine but junior high and high school were nutrition disasters! I think PE should stay in every school too, along with nutrition education. Report
I don't find this info very surprising. In the last generation we have removed much of the nutrition from our food, increased portion sizes, created a sense of entitlement to eat out often instead of cooking, and decreased the opportunity for exercise in our lives.

I live in a community without an abundance of sidewalks. In addition this community is tring to reduce the amount of traffic to help reduce pollition. Unfortunately, the community does nothing to create opportunities to walk or ride a bike. My community only has a Super Walmart grocery store, Sam's club with enormous quanities, and one other rather expensive grocery store. There is a farmer's market on Saturday morning from 8-11 am. By 9 am, a good amount of the variety is gone. How am I encouraged to exercise.

I just returned stateside after nearly three years in Europe. Every community is created for walking in Europe. In a fifteen minute walk I had five bakeries with a variety of fresh breads and rolls. All produce was fresh. Grocery stores are much smaller. The frozen, canned, and jarred food is limited. I had four grocery stores in walking distance. I miss that lifestyle. IF that lifestyle was brought stateside, think of how much healthier we would be. Everyone would get some walking a few times a week. All food would be fresh. Variety would available. We could take the best of Europe and anywhere else to create a healthier environment around us. Report
Minnesota is 31st for obesity at 25.1% and the children in Minnesota are 51st at 23%--neither one of them are great numbers to be pleased about; we have more work to do here in MN! Report
As ARCHIMEDESII pointed out, the poorest states are also the fattest states. One of the main reasons is the high carb, highly processed foods are the cheapest. Anyone who reads labels will also note just how many foods these days have added sugars. Unless you can afford whole, minimally processed foods, then you sort of have to settle for what you can get. Of course, there are good foods out there that are not very expensive but they require cooking skills and time, something many people these days also do not have.
I don't know how many other people have considered low carb diets but, I feel more satisfied on 1200+/- calories a day on a low carb food plan eating meats, healthy fats and low starch/low sugar vegetables than on 2000+/- calories a day eating a low fat/ high carb food plan. I do not have food cravings after the first week eating this way, my skin is smoother and I don't need naps in the middle of the day any longer. I also have mostly stopped having brain fog.
While overeating, to some extent, can be caused by stress, boredom, depression, etc., many times people are eating because their blood sugar drops which leads them to eat more to bring it back up. It starts a vicious cycle that keeps feeding itself. I would say most of my binging has been after eating something sweet to begin with.
I do agree some of the problem is a lack of activities or lack of access to ways to be more active. While I know there are plenty of people who have the discipline to workout at home, many need to be able to go somewhere away from home in order to find the time. I know, for me, unless it involves housework or yardwork, I tend to not be motivated enough to do anything but, I will take the time to go to the YMCA for my workouts and am thankful to be going.
When I lived down in Florida on the beach, I walked everywhere... it was easier to walk than to get in the car and drive. When I moved to Georgia, I moved to a rural area and you have to drive to get anywhere. There are no sidewalks and you are liable to get run over by someone speeding around a curve if you are walking too close to the edge of the road. It wasn't until I was able to join the Y that I finally had the motivation to start being more active again.
In the long run, it isn't the 100 calorie packs of everything that is going to help people get healthier and more active, its keeping a close eye on the types of foods they eat and being motivated enough to get moving. If the only foods you are eating are highly processed and has lots of hidden sugars in it, you aren't going to have the energy to move much anyway. Report
I live in Colorado. An 18.9% obesity rate is nothing to be proud of. Colorado has some great weather. We have lots of good parks and places to exercise. The mountains provide year-round outdoor activities. And still we have a high obesity rate. Report
The obesity epidemic recently hit every western and/or rich countries outside the US.

Extract from New York Times (January 25, 2006)
"While adult obesity is rising about 6 percent annually, among children the national rate of growth is 17 percent. At that rate, the French could be - quelle horreur - as fat as Americans by 2020. (More than 65 percent of the population in the United States is considered overweight or obese.)

Just a few years ago, obesity in France was a subject relegated to morning television talk shows and women's magazines. Now the issue has become political. (...) An estimated 55,000 people in France die of obesity-related illnesses every year."
Michigan ranks No.9 for adult obesity. with an adult obesity rate of 28.8 percent. We also rank No.29 for child obesity, with a child obesity rate of 30.6 percent. I am still in the ranks, but my weight is coming down--slowly. We actually do have sidewalks-but what else would one expect of a former AFB? as to America's supposed sloppiness and laziness-that was one of my grandmother's major complaints. One can see the same sloppiness and laziness in the punctuation, spelling and grammar of certain bloggers and in the comments left by some of our more critical commenters. Myself, I try to focus on how I can make improvements in the way I speak, write, eat, and exercise. if anyone were to ask, I would recomend SparkPeople wholeheartedly! Report
It's not as bad here in Canada but Unfortunately we're catching up, slowly but surely. Report
I do live in a neighborhood without sidewalks OR streetlights - because it's still transitioning between rural and suburban. My state is 28th, which isn't great. One of the problems is it really IS expensive to eat a healthy diet. Fresh fruit and veggies and meat cost a lot more money than filling high carb meals.

Our area recently passed a law that resteraunts must supply nutritional information on demand for the items they serve. I think it's a start, anyway.
the people the america are lazy bums who are use getting drive though and quick fatty foods in vending machines and all the wonderful tastes or the fatty stuff and is scared to taste healthy after being progamed to believe they taste nasty when they don't just different if we can show the country the healthy stuff not only is good for your body but also tastes good too..
I unfortunately moved to a street where we don't have a sidewalk, but I lucked out not only do I have a big back yard but I have a park right acreoss the street and a high school at the end of the black that have a nice tracking and a pool by it. all with in walking distance. Report
How do you think we should address the obesity epidemic?
I think we should keep spreading the spark. So often we hide that we are "dieting" why be ashamed we are doing the right thing for ourselves and its a good example to others.

How did your state fare? Is your state one of the "best" or one of the "worst"?
My state is 28 for adults and 33 for children. We have some work to do!

Do you live in one of those communities without sidewalks?
In my community we have a beautiful park that has walking trails and a waterfall. Its a wonderful place to walk/run and bike. Its funny that's located just off of the YMCA. I pass people all the time as I'm walking to the park that are going to the YMCA and I think I could never go inside and work out with such a beautiful free park at my disposal.

How do you think we, as SparkPeople members, can combat the obesity epidemic? I think we should open up and tell people about sparkpeople. If they ask you if your dieting or what plan your using tell them about sparks recruit. Include your family and friends.
How do you think we should address the obesity epidemic?
By spreading the SPARK! Ya' start with SparkPeople, and from SparkGuy... to behind-the-scenes genius making ALL this run smooth- to personal SparkPages & SparkMail- to up-to-the-minute lifestyle changing news- to experts & coaches- time taken developing trackers, exercise routines, SparkTeams- to nutritious SparkRecipes- phenomenal PROOF SparkPeople works by celebrating SparkMember successes on SparkJourneys!!

How did your state fare? Is your state one of the "best" or one of the "worst"?
Georgia, is 14th highest rate of adult obesity in the nation, at 27.9 %, and 3rd highest of overweight youths, ages 10-17, at 37.3%. It's on the high end of the mid-way mark for adults and through the roof for kids- what's with THAT?!! Sooo... for children, definitely WORSE, and for adults, MEDIOCRE (not hot- not cold) BLAH!

Do you live in one of those communities without sidewalks?
There sidewalks on one side of the streets and lit with street lights, plus 2 tennis courts, a basketball court, swimming pool, playground, and workout room in the community center.

How do you think we, as SparkPeople members, can combat the obesity epidemic?
Well, I think I answered that in the 1st question, but I will add that for each of us... we must keep on keeping on with transformations here at SP. We can't teach, "Do as I say, and not as I do," can we? We MUST become the NEW lifestyle changes and help SP STOP the epidemic, right?!! Be role models... Report
I live in Colorado...and what was a big trigger for me was realizing that I lived in the "healthiest state" and I was at my all time highest weight. So, now...46 lbs lighter..I finally feel like I am starting to fit in!

I am spreading the Spark every chance I get...and shouting my success story through all forms of communication. I have faith in that if I make an impact on as many people as possible, it was start a domino effect through my personal network. I think that is the least I can do :) Report
Good golly those are some frightening stats, but not surprising. Yesterday I was in a restaurant, and I kid you not, the chicken tenders they brought out for one person was enough to feed a family of 3 or 4. Couple this with lack of movement, stressed out families/individuals, lessened sleep hours and we have the perfect storm for obesity.

We can't use these stats to guilt us into changing, but instead we should use them to encourage us to change or else the generations to come will not be blessed to live well into their golden years in a healthy manner.
How do you think we should address the obesity epidemic?

How did your state fare? Is your state one of the "best" or one of the "worst"?
-My state was one of the "best", but I guess that is relative to how badly everyone else is doing now.

Do you live in one of those communities without sidewalks?
-No, but my neighborhood has a lot of traffic and sucking up car exhaust while my son and I go for a walk isn't appealing. We wind up driving somewhere else to a park or something (there are a lot of parks around here).

How do you think we, as SparkPeople members, can combat the obesity epidemic?
-By sharing our stories with people we know. Before many of us came here we probably thought that we were the only ones who had whatever issue it was that we though kept us from losing weight. By empathizing with other people and letting them know that they are not alone and that they CAN do this, perhaps they will feel more confident in themselves and their ability to get healthier.

One of the things I noticed that wasn't mentioned in the article is the cutting of physical education in schools. Obesity isn't about just food, it is about the lack of exercise as well. Schools need to have daily recess/phys ed classes, and have this be required K-12! Report
I agree with Natalie813; what's missing is a public discussion of emotional/comfort eating. It's not just that people are too lazy to walk and can't be bothered to cook or make healthy choices. For most people food is their comfort, a way to deal with uncomfortable feelings. It doesn't help that we've created a toxic culture that values ridiculously thin women and overly buff men.

One way people used to deal with stress was smoking (check out any movie from the 40s or 50s), now there's a drop in smoking and rise in obesity. Coincidence? I don't think so. Personally until there's a more public discussion on the emotional side of eating, we're not going to make much of a dent in the obesity rates. Report
Here is my two cents......

#1 - Lead by example - teach our children the importance of a healthy vs. convienient. Sit down to the dinner table with your children instead of driving thru with them.

#2 - Mandatory fitness time at work!!! Wouldn't it be nice to be paid by our employers for one hour of excercise at least 3 days a week? Would it really cost our employers in the long run??? Report
Here is my two cents......

#1 - Lead by example - teach our children the importance of a healthy vs. convienient. Sit down to the dinner table with your children instead of driving thru with them.

#2 - Mandatory fitness time at work!!! Wouldn't it be nice to be paid by our employers for one hour of excercise at least 3 days a week? Would it really cost our employers in the long run??? Report
Well, I'm still overweight although decreasing weekly, I am proud of myself because in May 09 my BMI was an obese rating so I'm one less on the statistic... way 2 go me! Several of my friends and sisters are also decreasing, we're doing our part and although I've been spreading a little bit of sparkie, only one sister has joined and isn't active... boo hoo although I tell her often how great the site is! Report
I am really troubled by these statistics (even though I don't have the greatest faith in the BMI as a measurement tool)... what worries me most is the underlying cause of the widespread weight gain and the speed in which it's occurring.

But, what is the true epidemic here. Is is depression? Anxiety? I can't believe that it's just a matter of nutrition and exercise. People binge eat and overeat usually to numb themselves. As I did. My weight is my barrier against the world... and my diseases are compulsive overeating, depression, anxiety and phobic disorders. To treat one and not the rest gets me (and us as a nation) nowhere.

And, I believe that's where the cure starts, by education and treatment. It's just not as simple as putting down the Big Mac. But as in the discussion here on "obesity as a disability" proved, people are highly uneducated when it comes to this disease... people even went as far as to state that alcoholism and drug abuse were not diseases... the rate of obesity will continue to rise as long as the general population view it in terms of eating and not mental health. It's not about willpower. It's not about putting down the fries, it's about why we're picking them up in the first place. What void are we feeding? The hatred and criticisms only make that void larger to fill.

It's frightening. And, through treatment (which includes nutrition and exercise, but not exclusively). hopefully in the near future I'll no longer be a part of the statistics. Report
This is very depressing news.

My state (Minnesota) was pretty high on the list. But my city does have a ton of walking paths which I think has helped. (And I see people using them all the time. My family being the few out there.)

I think the only thing we can do is;

-Keep spreading the Spark!
-Continue on our healthy lifestyles
-Continue educating our children

I'm pretty much sickened by these statistics. So many unmotivated people with so many excuses! At least here at SP we know there are no excuses- as hard as it might be, you can maintain a healthy weight! Report
Even though Alabama isn't number one, being in 2nd place is just as horrible. The facts aren't shocking to me at all due to the knowledge I have about all of the restaurants and foods available here. I am hoping that one day our nation wakes up before it's too late with the obesity epidemic. Report
I think it is important to look at this problem as something to tackle one day at a time. People often get overwhelmed with statistics and feel like failures before they even start a health regimine. Physicians should educate but be aware of patient sensitivities when it comes to weight loss, especially in children! Report
I'm in Europe and we aren't doing that good either. In the town I live, there are farmer's markets and i can walk everywhere. That's the good part. The bad part is that restaurants don't have to post the nutritional information... Report
We moved to Colorado 3 years ago, and right away I could see and pick up on a different kind of attitude here when it comes to healthy eating, healthy living and enjoying excercise. There are wonderful Farmer's Market's everywhere, restaurants that take pride in using locally grown foods, each area/town has a great rec center that families/individuals can belong to for a reasonable price, people enjoy biking and walking, hiking and various types of skiiing abounds.....the list goes on.
One thing my husband and I also noticed and have taken advantage of is the very progressive thinking doctors here. For example, when we went to our doctor for various health issue's - he took the time to look at/treat the "whole picture" instead of treating each individual symtpom with a rx pill(i.e. insomnia, weight gain, depression, etc.). We are both losing weight, sleeping great, happier, have loads more energy and are only on 1 prescription med(for thyroid), and a few supplements.
Having lived in 3 other countries and numerous states, I think Colorado remains the least obese because of the overall mindset here towards good health. Oh, and the pleasant climate and beautiful scenary are a definite plus! Report
This is a very scary situation. We ALL pay for the obesity in this country even if we maintain a healthy lifestyle. Our medical costs for the uninsured and terribly unhealthy individuals comes out of everyone's pockets. I think it is easy to see that Colorado, with it's mountian's and active lifestyle is reaping a positive payoff while the southern states with the high fatty foods is reaping a different sort of reward....ouch! I choose the healthy lifestyle and won't turn back because the cost to my health is horribly alarming! Report
There is no doubt that there is an obesity problem in this nation, but I have issues with this survey. What did they use to determine overweight or obese? If it was BMI, it's not accurate. I would be considered overweight accoridng to BMI, but my doctor and gym have assessed me and my body fat is in the normal range.

When we have articles talking about thowing away our scales and using other ways to measure progress, we need to really take a look at the tools we're using to measure obesity. The numbers are not accurate if we are using the archaic BMI. I agree with the Happywriter7. We need to find a better way to assess obesity. Report
I live in Pittsburgh where it's pretty much a joke finding sidewalks. You have no choice but to drive/take a bus because you will get hit or yelled at at best. I moved from NYC where to me walking 8 + miles to get to point B was normal. None of my friends drove and we would meet a few miles away like it was no problem. I walked 2 miles to get to/from school every day in middle school ( 1 mile each way)and it was a 2+ mile trip each way for HS. I gained about 80 pounds in only 5 years moving to PA where that just isn't an option. I literally got made from of the first year I moved here for wanting to walk home less than half a mile. People just don't 'do' that. I had to get a permission slip signed that I had to write up to be able to walk home because otherwise it wasn't an option. People are so backwards here that I had to practically BEG to get to walk home a few blocks. Report
"Minnesota has the 31st highest rate of adult obesity in the nation, at 25.3 percent and the lowest of overweight youths (ages 10-17) at 23.1 percent, according to a new report by Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

The rate of obese adults remained consistent in the state in the past year"

MN isn't great but it's on the lower end of the rankings, I guess.
It's just so odd, everywhere I go in St. Paul I see folks biking, running, walking. It could be due to living in a relatively affluent part of the state (the TC area in general) but I very rarely see obese people in my daily life. Then I realized I do all my shopping at work (Whole Foods) among our general customer base - who tend to be well-educated and middle or higher class. So much of the "obesity epidemic" is directly related to class and the cost of food.

The gov't should STOP subsidizing meat, dairy and corn and instead start working on making produce and fresh plant foods more available. I still don't consider apples/bananas/etc. to be expensive, even organic bananas at WFM are only 99 a pound!, but I also don't eat meat or dairy and have no children, which I'm sure spreads my food dollar much less thin. Report
One of my major laments is that the Insurance Companies are having to raise their rates continually to combat a lot of health issues that are obesity related...yet they don't do anything to FIX the problem, for the most part! And I'm not talking about making surgery more available. I'm talking about Wellness Programs! What might happen if an Insurance Provider offered a registered dietician and a personal trainer? What if they offered cash incentives for losing weight. Or even better yet - what if they offered other fitness incentives (like heart rate monitors, digital food scales, pedometers, etc.) for earning SparkPoints!!!! In a crunched economy I bet a lot of people might be willing to jump on a treadmill or pick up the dusty weights sitting in the corner of the living room to earn some cash or rewards - and in the meantime they would be earning their health too!

Before I found SparkPeople I was at a complete loss as to how to achieve my goal of losing weight. I couldn't afford a gym, I couldn't afford a nutritionist, and I couldn't afford weight loss programs. I love that SparkPeople offers all that and MORE! Insurance providers would benefit immensely by what a program like SparkPeople offers through increased levels of fitness, increased knowledge and the ability to make good, healthy choices regardless of the situation you are faced with; and in the end it would benefit their bottom line financially and America's bottom line, literally! Report
PS - I live in Boston. I don't need a car. I can walk everywhere. That's because there are sidewalks everywhere. In spite of our drivers being Type A personalities behind the wheel of their cars, Boston is very pedestrian friendly.

Massachusetts ranked 2nd behind Colorado. Even though it's obesity rate isn't as high as the South, it's still bad. One in five MA residents is overweight or obese.

When I went to school, back in the Dark Ages, there were no soda or candy machines anywhere on the premises. If you wanted a soda, you either had to bring your own from home or you went to the local convenience store.

One problem is that schools have no funding. In order to bring in money for the arts or sports, schools allow the soft drink industry to put machines in the cafeterias. In short, those soda machines may be the reason childhood obesity is on the rise, but it's also the reason some schools have sports teams or art programs.

It's a dreadful catch 22. If we get rid of the machines, it also means getting rid of programs. There's no money ! With the economy in the state it is, you've got to expect more budget cuts too. And where does the state cut ? education...

So, what's a person to do ? My feeling is that we've got to make junk food less accessible. Part of the problem is that junk food is CHEAP. I was listening to a program on this issue today and one caller complained about all the people in the grocery store who were buying frosted flakes instead of veggies.

I'll tell you why... that box of frosted flakes is affordable. Red peppers are $3.99 a pound. Do you know how many you'd need to feed a family of four ? That's my point. Highly processed food is cheap. it's something families can afford.

Why not find a way to make red peppers more affordable ? If healthy food wasn't so expensive, more people would buy it.

If you notice the trends in this study. the poorest states in the nation are the fattest. the thinnest states, Colorado, MA, Vermont, etc... they are fairly rich. People with money can afford to eat right and go to the gym. People who are poor have to buy what they can and that means... junk.

If we want the obesity rate to go down, we've got to make healthy food more affordable.

Im amazed at the 44% child obesity rate in Mississippi, Im also a little alarmed that the BMI is going to be used to screen people. It seems to me that with all of the science and technology available these days there really should be a more...sensible and accurate test. Honestly. Report
I'm a baby boomer, and most of us are grossly overweight. Healthcare costs are skyrocketing. We have to work harder at eating healthy and moving more, that's all there is to it. Cheap junk food and food marketing is killing us just as surely as cigarettes! Report
Where I live in a suburb of Minneapolis, MN, we have few sidewalks. One of the walks I take means being IN a fairly busy street for about 1/2 mile before getting to a sidewalk. My grandsons love to go for walks so that particular walk is a big no-no until the 2 year old gets a lot older and starts to listen. We do have two paths through a wooded area we take and someday we will take the one that goes to the park. Little to far for the 2 year old yet but the 11 year old has been doing that walk for about 5 years and loves it.

Both grandsons eat their veggies first and want more. Ever have to tell a kid you can't have more broccoli until you eat your steak? That's the way mine are. Also, the 2 year-old gets up from his nap and immediately heads to the fridge to get a yogurt. Would eat 3 a day if we'd let him, and also likes milk (chocolate of course) more than soda. They are doing well food wise and never stop moving so get plenty of exercise. Hope both "habits" continue for them. Report
I'm with REVSERENA. In the movie "SuperSize Me", there's a very overweight pretty young teenaged girl who is on the verge of tears because Jared the Subway Guy came to her school to talk about eating healthier (which was basically "Eat at Subway"), and when she talked to him afterwards, he had NO advice for her beyond eating at this restaurant. She explained to the camera that she was desperate to lose weight but didn't have the money to eat at Subway three times a day. My heart broke for her, and breaks for all the people in America who are victims of the evil food industries and misleading advertising campaigns, who live in communities with no sidewalks or green spaces, and who have no real, solid information about how to eat and live to be healthy. Thank God for SparkPeople, a community who truly seems to care about overweight and obesity sufferers. Spreading the Spark is more important now than ever! Report
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