A national study ranks Iowa near the middle of the pack for adult and childhood obesity. Rich Hamburg, deputy director of Trust for America’s Health, says more than 65% of Iowa adults are obese or overweight — a rise from last year — and the national figures are getting bigger, too.
“The numbers continue to get worse,” Hamburg says, “We’ve seen a rise in obesity rates in 28 states this year. The number of states with 30-percent or more adult obesity doubled, from four to eight, and the various rates among children are certainly continuing to rise.” The seventh annual report, “F as in Fat: How the Obesity Crisis Threatens America’s Future 2010,” focuses on racial, ethnic, regional and income disparities in what it calls “the nation’s obesity epidemic.”
“The first message is a realization that we have this problem that’s been slowly but surely building,” Hamburg says. “This rise in obesity and overweight is something to be worried about. Even in the lightest state, Colorado, 55-percent of the adults are overweight and obese.”
While Iowa ranks in the top-25 most obese states overall, he says the Hawkeye State is among the thinnest when it comes to a large group of kids. “The Iowa statistics are interesting,” Hamburg says. “Twenty-second ranked state, with one being the heaviest, a 27.6% rate of obesity, a 0.9% increase. That is a pretty significant increase from last year. If you look at the statistics from the National Survey of Children’s Health for kids 10-to-17, Iowa is 46th, so at least that’s an encouraging sign.”
He say the tough economic times continue to contribute to the obesity epidemic, but he says there are specific strategies and policies that can help reverse the trend. “We know what works,” Hamburg says. “We know what programs should be implemented in the schools, in the workplace. We have promising programs but we need them to increase exponentially because the response as a nation, as of yet, has yet to fully match the magnitude of the problem.”
The study finds the obesity rates are the highest in: Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, West Virginia and Louisiana. The states with the lowest obesity rates are: Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont and Hawaii. For more information, visit “www.healthyamericans.org“