The southern states have some of the highest obesity rates in the U.S., according to a new report from the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Adult obesity rates rose in 28 states over the past year. 10 out of 11 states with the highest rates are located in the South. Mississippi has the highest obesity rate for the 6th year in a row.
Obesity rates are above 25% in 38 states, and above 30% in 8 states. In 1991, no state had an obesity rate above 20%, and in 1980, the national average was 15%. Diabetes rates have also gone up; 19% in adults in the past year.
Racial disparities have also emerged; blacks and latinos have higher obesity rates than whites in almost every state. The report found a strong association between socioeconomic status and adult obesity rates. About 35% of those earning less than $15,000 a year were obese, compared to 25% of adults earning $50,000 or more each year.
So what is being done to combat this obesity epidemic? About 20 states have nutritional standards for school lunches that are stricter than USDA standards. There are also 20 states that have enforced requirements for BMI assessments or other weight evaluations in schools. Other tips found in the report include making supermarkets more readily available, reducing the number of fast food joints, and redesigning neighborhoods to create more opportunities for exercise.
Here's a list of states with highest obesity rates:
2. Alabama (31.6%) tied with Tennessee (31.6%)
4. West Virginia (31.3%)
5. Louisiana (31.2%)
7. Kentucky (30.5%)
8. Arkansas (30.1%)
9. South Carolina (29.9%)
10. Michigan (29.4%) tied with North Carolina (29.4%)