The percentage of obese adults increased in 16 states since last year and didn't decline in any state, a new report says. In addition, the number of adults who say they don't do any physical activity increased in 14 states this past year.
"The bad news is the obesity rates are really high," says Jeff Levi, executive director of Trust for America's Health, a nonprofit group that prepared the report along with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "But if you are looking for a silver lining it's that only 16 states showed an increase this last year, and in the past, more states had increases."
The South still has the highest percentage of people who are too heavy. Nine of the 10 states with the highest obesity rates are in the South, the report says.
Mississippi continues to be the state with the highest level of obesity at 34.4%; Colorado has the lowest rate at 19.8%
The South may be the hardest hit by obesity because of high rates of poverty and a traditional diet that is unhealthy, Levi says.
This report is based on state-by-state obesity data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in which people self-report their height and weight. Because people tend to underreport their weight, the percentage of people who are obese is probably higher than these statistics indicate.
Other CDC data in which people are actually weighed and measured indicate that about 34% of adults in the USA- almost 73 million people - are obese.
A person is considered obese if they are roughly 30 or more pounds over a healthy weight. Extra weight raises the risk of diabetes, heart disease, some types of cancer and other problems.
"If you lose 10% of your weight, we know you dramatically improve your health, even though technically you may still be classified as obese," Levi says.
Other findings of the report:
•About 33% of adults who did not graduate from high school are obese compared with 21.5% of those who graduated from college or technical college.
•More than 33% of adults who earn less than $15,000 a year are obese, compared with 24.6% of those who earn more than $50,000 a year.
•The states with the highest rates of obese 10- to 17-year-olds include Mississippi, Georgia, Kentucky, Illinois and Louisiana.
•The states with the lowest rates of obesity for 10- to 17-year-olds include Oregon, Wyoming, Washington, Minnesota, Iowa and Hawaii.
(Copyright © 2011 USA TODAY)