The existence of an obesity epidemic in this country is not news, but the rapidity with which Americans' waistlines are expanding is unprecedented. Obesity lurks behind several serious illnesses, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.
According to the new report, rates of adult obesity exceed 25 percent in 19 states, up from 14 states last year and 9 in 2005. In 1991, no state had an adult obesity rate exceeding 20 percent.
The South is a locus of the problem, possessing 10 of the 15 states with the highest rates of adult obesity. In addition, the South also had eight of the 10 states with the highest rates of overweight children (aged 10 to 17).
According to Levi, the South had higher levels of type 2 diabetes and hypertension and lower levels of reported physical activity. Mississippi had the highest rate of adult inactivity, at 31.6 percent; Minnesota the lowest at 15.4 percent. In the nation overall, 22 percent of adults reported that they do not engage in any physical activity.
The rates of overweight children ranged from a high of 22.8 percent in Washington, D.C., to a low of 8.5 percent in Utah. Overall, about 25 million U.S. children are overweight or obese, the report found
"Diseases that used to be considered adult illnesses like type 2 and high blood pressure are becoming increasingly common among children," Marks said. "If we fail to reverse this epidemic, the current generation may be the first in American history to live sicker and die younger than their parents' generation."
Among the study's other findings:
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