America continues to struggle with its weight. And then some.
Adult obesity rates rose sharply in half a dozen states last year, according to newly released data from the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Their latest annual report on the subject, now called the State of Obesity (it used to be F as in Fat), shows that 20 states have adult obesity rates at or above 30%, 43 states have rates of at least 25% and every state is above 20% percent, with Colorado the trimmest at 21%.
As recently as 2007, only Mississippi, long America's chubbiest state, had an adult obesity rate above 30%; and in 1991 no state was above 20%. Though the rates of increase in obesity are slowing, no state has reversed theirs, the report notes. It also identifies six states — Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, New Jersey, Tennessee and Wyoming — where the rates increased significantly last year.
As other studies have shown, obesity is increasing fastest among the poor and minorities. All but one of the states in the ranking of the ten most obese is a Southern state.
Southerners have some of the most limited access to healthy food among all Americans and the least means to buy it; they also have the least opportunities to exercise outdoors, and the heat discourages them from doing so.
A consequence is that those states also rank highly in the nation for obesity related diseases such as hypertension and diabetes (you can see those rankings for the 10 most obese states on our accompanying slideshow), and for heart disease, arthritis and and obesity-related cancers.
Obesity-related illness cost the U.S. upwards of an estimated $190 billion in annual health care costs, double 1998’s level, and accounts for one in every five dollars Americans spend on health care. Childhood obesity accounts for 10% of that number.
Good diet and regular exercise are the basis of any weight-loss program regardless of where you start from — healthy habits to learn young (childhood obesity accounts for more than 7% of that estimated $190 billion, although the good news for the long-term, according to the report, is that childhood obesity rates are stabilizing and in some states falling for children from poor families).
We have laid out one simple exercise program that anyone from teenager to senior or any age in between and of any weight can do at home. It doesn't require special equipment and it isn't a boot camp. It is designed to bring you up gradually to a healthy level of fitness and take off the pounds with a daily 12-minute routine (see: How a Half-Century-Old Exercise Plan and 12 Minutes a Day Could Make You Your Fittest Yet; we have easy to follow instructions for each exercise and day-by-day goals).
We also have tips on how to lose the last 10 pounds, how to build exercise seamlessly into your daily routine by moving more at work, and some no-nonsense weigh loss advice from Guardians of the Galaxy star Chris Pratt. You can always find more tips, advice and support in our Fitness channel.
For more inspiration read this tale of how a self-described “fat bloke” got off his couch and ran into the record books. Steve Way lost 70 pounds over three years by stopping smoking, eating better, and, as he puts it, “getting off my backside."