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Obesity Rates Continue to Climb in U.S.
Date:7/1/2009

lts were obese, the report noted.

And childhood obesity continues to be a growing concern, with the rate of childhood obesity more than tripling since 1980.

Mississippi also had the dubious distinction of posting the highest rate of obesity in children ages 10 to 17, at 44.4 percent. Minnesota and Utah had the lowest rates, both at 23.1 percent. The South is home to eight of the 10 states with the highest rates of obese or overweight children.

The current economic crisis could make the obesity epidemic worse, with food costs -- especially for nutritious foods -- expected to rise. And the numbers of Americans struggling with depression, anxiety and stress, which can contribute to obesity, are increasing, the report said.

Not all the trends covered in the report were discouraging. Some other findings:

  • Standards for school meals in 19 states are stricter than United States Department of Agriculture requirements. Five years ago, just four states had laws mandating stricter standards.
  • Nutritional standards for foods sold in schools exist in 27 states, compared to six states five years ago.
  • Weight screening of children and teens is now required in 20 states; five years ago it was just four states.

Still, the health risks posed by the obesity epidemic are inescapable. Baby boomer's have the highest rate of obesity, compared with previous generations. And as boomers age, Medicare will have to pay a hefty price for the chronic conditions caused by obesity, the report said.

Why are so many Americans so fat? "Quite simply," Katz said, "because we can."

"Throughout almost all of human history, calories have been relatively scarce and hard to get, and physical activity an unavoidable part of survival," he said. "We have now devised a modern world in which physical activity is scarce and hard to get, and calories are unavoidable. We are the proverbia
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