America Is Losing the War Against Obesity

America is putting on the pounds during this recession.  Americans are not getting thinner, and obesity rates have hit 30 percent of the population or higher in nine states last year, compared with just three states in 2007. Looking at the numbers from a different perspective, this means that 2.4 million additional Americans became obese in just two years, bringing the total to 72.5 million individuals, or 26.7 percent of the population.  Because the survey is based on a phone survey with 400,000 participants, the statistics probably underestimate true obesity rates.

According to Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which issued the survey, “Over the past several decades, obesity has increased faster than anyone could have imagined.”  If the numbers keep climbing, Frieden says that “more people will get sick and die from the complications of obesity, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer.”  The report says that obesity’s medical costs could be as high as $147 billion a year and notes that “past efforts and investments to prevent and control obesity have not been adequate.”  Too little exercise and too much fast food that is full of sugar and fat share much of the blame for the obesity epidemic.

The nine states with obesity rates of 30 percent or higher are Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and West Virginia.  Mississippi reported an obesity rate of whopping 34.4 percent.  Colorado and Washington, D.C., had the lowest obesity rates at less than 20 percent.  According to Dr. Heidi Blanck, the CDC’s chief of the obesity branch, Americans aged 50 and above had the highest obesity rates.

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