Want the skinny on America’s health?
According to F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2011, adult obesity increased in 16 states in the past year, with 12 states now reporting at least 30 percent of their populations as obese (having a body mass index of 30 or more).
Adult obesity continues to be most prevalent in the South, which includes nine of the 10 states with the highest rates. Mississippi was named the country’s most obese state for the seventh year in a row. Colorado, playground for hikers and outdoors enthusiasts, was the least.
This year, the report examined how obesity has measured up over the past two decades. Twenty years ago, no state had an obesity rate above 15 percent. Today, 38 states have obesity rates greater than 25 percent. Colorado’s 19.8 percent rate today would have made it the most obese state in the nation in 1995.
Why the weight gain? Larger portion sizes, ready availability and lower cost of unhealthy foods, loss of physical education programs in schools and less healthy school lunches are some of the biggest reasons.
The bottom line: today, more than 190 million Americans are overweight or obese. As America’s waistlines continue to expand, so, too, do the health problems associated with obesity from Type 2 diabetes to cancer.
Since 1995, diabetes rates have doubled in eight states. Twenty years ago, 37 states had hypertension rates over 20 percent; now, every state is over 20 percent.
Obesity affects air medical transport, as well.
“When we transport bariatric patients, we have to take certain factors into consideration,” says Angel MedFlight critical care flight paramedic Jeff Raebel. “We look at equipment capabilities, aircraft door opening, movement techniques and other areas that may impact bariatric patients’ safety and comfort.”
The government has proposed changes to create healthier environments, and initiatives like First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign are models that we can follow at the community and family levels.