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Obesity Rates Up in 37 States: Report
Date:8/19/2008

nt). The five slimmest states are Colorado (18.4 percent), Hawaii (20.7 percent), Connecticut (20.8 percent), Massachusetts (20.9 percent), and Vermont (21.1 percent), according to the report.

An estimated two-thirds of Americans are now overweight or obese. That compares to 1980, when the national average of obese adults was 15 percent.

Obesity is defined as a body mass index -- BMI, a ratio of weight to height -- of 30 or more. A person who is 5-feet, 8-inches tall and weighs 197 pounds has a BMI of 30.

The report said that rates of type 2 diabetes -- a disease typically associated with obesity -- increased in 26 states last year. Four states now have diabetes rates above 10 percent. And all 10 states with the highest rates of diabetes and high blood pressure are in the South.

Besides type 2 diabetes, obesity has been linked to coronary heart disease and stroke, cancer, osteoarthritis, gall bladder disease, liver disease and pregnancy complications, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

The report also noted a relationship between poverty and obesity rates. It found that seven of the 10 states with the highest obesity rates are also among the 10 states with the highest poverty rates.

While a number of promising policies designed to promote physical activity and good nutrition have been introduced in communities, the report's findings suggest that these policies aren't being adopted or implemented at levels sufficient to reverse the obesity epidemic.

"America's future depends on the health of our country. The obesity epidemic is lowering our productivity and dramatically increasing our health care costs. Our analysis shows that we are not treating the obesity epidemic with the urgency it deserves," Jeffrey Levi, executive director of Trust for America's Health, said in a news release. "Even though communities have started taking action, considering the scope of the problem, the co
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