Fat and Thin Nation: Which is Yours?

July 17, 2008 — At least one in four American adults is obese, and only those who admit it, according to the CDC’s new adult obesity statistics.

Nationwide, 25.6 percent of adults are obese, an increase of 1.7 percentage points from 2005. It has a BMI of 30 or higher. BMI (Body Mass Index) links height to weight.

Mississippi had the highest rate of obese adults — 32 percent — followed by Alabama, Tennessee, Louisiana and Arkansas. Colorado has the lowest obesity rate, with 18.7% of its adults in the obesity range. Colorado has the lowest adult obesity rate since 1990.

Still no state — not even Colorado — has met the federal government’s goal of reducing that number to no more than 15 percent by 2010.

“Without a single state hitting its 15 percent obesity rate target, it looks like we’re continuing to head in the wrong direction,” CDC epidemiologist Celeste Philip, MD, tells WebMD.

The CDC’s website shows America’s obesity boom in vivid color, with a map showing states since 1989 from blue (low percentage of obese adults) to dark red (high percentage).

List of Obesity by State

Here’s a look at what each state — plus Washington, DC — ranks in adult obesity prevalence along with the percentage of obese adults. States with the same prevalence are listed together.

  1. Mississippi: 32%
  2. Alabama: 30.3%
  3. Tennessee: 30.1 %
  4. Louisiana: 29.8%
  5. Arkansas: 28.7%
  6. West Virginia: 29.5%
  7. South Carolina: 28.4%
  8. Georgia: 28.2%
  9. Oklahoma and Texas: 28.1%
  10. North Carolina: 28%
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  12. Michigan: 27.7%
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  14. Alaska, Missouri and Ohio: 27.5%
  15. Delaware and Kentucky: 27.4%
  16. < li>Pennsylvania: 27.1%

  17. Iowa and Kansas: 26.9%
  18. Indiana: 26.8%
  19. North Dakota: 26.5%
  20. South Dakota: 26.2%
  21. Nebraska: 26%
  22. Minnesota: 25.6%
  23. Oregon: 25.5%
  24. Arizona and Maryland: 25.4%
  25. Washington: 25.3%
  26. New York: 25%
  27. Illinois: 24.9%
  28. Maine: 24.8%
  29. Wisconsin: 24.7%
  30. Idaho: 24.5%
  31. New Hampshire: 24.4%
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  33. Virginia: 24.3%
  34. Nevada: 24.1%
  35. New Mexico: 24%
  36. Wyoming: 23.7%
  37. cheap jersey wholesale: 23.5%
  38. California: 22.6%
  39. Montana, Utah and Washington, D.C.: 21.8%
  40. Hawaii and Rhode Island: 21.4%
  41. Massachusetts and Vermont: 21.3%
  42. Connecticut: 21.2%
  43. Colorado: 18.7%

Data, published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, from a 2007 survey of 404,300 U.S. adults age 18 and older Telephone interview. Here’s the catch: They may have misreported their reported height and weight.

Men tend to overestimate their height and women tend to underestimate their weight, so true obesity statistics in the U.S. may actually be higher, Philips said. The last time the CDC measured a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults, rather than relying on self-reported weight and height, 34.3 percent were obese, she said.

Why hope?

To stem the trend of adult obesity, you may want to focus on your children.

Philip points out that a recent study published in the JAMA suggests that childhood obesity may be leveling off — not getting better, but not getting worse.

It’s “encouraging, although we’ll have to watch it over the next few years to see if it’s actually going in the right direction,” Philip said. Childhood obesity has received a lot of attention in recent years, and if adults follow in their footsteps and develop healthier habits and a healthier environment, “I think we can start to make progress,” she said.

Diet and exercise aren’t the only issues

Eat healthy and stay physically active. That familiar refrain isn’t the whole solution. Your environment also matters, says Philip.

“Most people tend to think of obesity as a personal issue, but we’re really trying to change that pattern so that people see it more as an environmental issue,” she said.

This includes better use of sidewalks, safe areas to exercise, affordable healthy fresh fruits and vegetables, and restaurants that offer healthy options and moderate portions, Philip said.

Let policy makers know if you want a healthier environment by recommending eating more fruits and vegetables, exercising more, and drinking less sugary drinks.