F as in Fat 2007
How Obesity Policies are Failing in America
Adult obesity rates rose in 31 states last year, according to the fourth annual F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies are Failing in America, 2007 report from the Trust for America's Health (TFAH). Twenty-two states experienced an increase for the second year in a row; no states decreased. A new public opinion survey featured in the report finds 85 percent of Americans believe that obesity is an epidemic.
Mississippi topped the list with the highest rate of adult obesity in the country for the third year in a row, and is the first state to reach a rate of over 30 percent (at 30.6 percent). Colorado was the leanest state again this year, however, its adult obesity rate increased over the past year (from 16.9 to 17.6 percent). Ten of the 15 states with the highest rates of adult obesity are located in the South. Rates of adult obesity now exceed 25 percent in 19 states, an increase from 14 states last year and 9 in 2005. In 1991, none of the states exceeded 20 percent.
The report also finds that rates of overweight children (ages 10 to 17) ranged from a high of 22.8 percent in Washington, D.C. to a low of 8.5 percent in Utah. Eight of the ten states with the highest rates of overweight children were in the South.
Recommendations for Combating Obesity
TFAH recommends a comprehensive approach for helping individuals make healthy choices including support from families, communities, schools, employers, the food and beverage industries, health professionals, and government at all levels. Some key recommendations include:
- Think big. The federal government should develop and implement a National Strategy to Combat Obesity. This plan should involve every federal government agency, define clear roles and responsibilities for states and localities, and engage private industry and community groups.
- Make healthy choices easy choices. Federal, state, and local governments should develop and implement policies that give Americans the tools they need to make it easier to engage in the recommended levels of physical activity and choose healthy foods, ranging from improving food served and increasing opportunities for physical activity in schools to requiring restaurants and food companies to provide better and more readily accessible information about the nutritional content of their products to securing more safe, affordable recreation places for all Americans.
- Improve your bottom line. Federal, state, and local governments should work with private employers and insurers to ensure that every working American has access to a workplace wellness program.
- Escalate research on how to promote healthy choices. Public health officials have identified a number of strategies to help encourage people to make healthier decisions about nutrition and activity, however, much more research needs to be done about how to effectively promote healthier habits.
2007 Report (2.06MB .pdf)
TFAH Release: New Report Finds U.S. Obesity Epidemic Continues to Grow; Mississippi Tops List for Adults, D.C. for Youths
Supplement to Report: Obesity-Related Legislation Action in States, Update
Statement of Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) On the Nationwide Obesity Rates
Statement by the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors
TFAH Release: Trust for America's Health Director Testifies before Congress on Child Obesity Epidemic
Testimony: "Childhood Obesity: The Declining Health of America's Next Generation," Before the Subcommittee on Children and Families; Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee