WASHINGTON - More U.S. Adults Report Being Obese
No State Has Met 2010 National Goal of 15 Percent Adult Obesity
The number of states with an obesity prevalence of 30 percent or more
has tripled in two years to nine states in 2009, according to a CDC
Vital Signs report. In 2000, no state had an obesity prevalence of 30
percent or more. The report, "State-Specific Obesity Prevalence Among
Adults - United States, 2009," also finds no state met the nation's
Healthy People 2010 goal to lower obesity prevalence to 15 percent.
The data show a 1.1 percentage point increase - an additional 2.4
million people - in the self-reported prevalence of obesity between 2007
and 2009 among adults aged 18 and over. The report also notes the
medical costs associated with obesity are high. In 2008 dollars,
medical costs associated with obesity were estimated at $147 billion.
People who are obese had medical costs that were $1,429 higher than
those of normal weight, the report said.
"Obesity continues to be a major public health problem," said CDC
Director Thomas Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. "We need intensive, comprehensive
and ongoing efforts to address obesity. If we don't more people will
get sick and die from obesity-related conditions such as heart disease,
stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading
causes of death."
The August Vital Signs report is based on new data from the Behavioral
Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). BRFSS contains state-level
public health data and provides a way for states to monitor progress
toward Healthy People goals. To assess obesity prevalence,
approximately 400,000 phone survey respondents were asked to provide
their height and weight, which was used to calculate their body mass
index (BMI). An adult is considered obese if he or she has a BMI of 30
or above. For example, a 5-foot-4 woman who weighs 174 pounds or more,
or a 5-foot-10 man who weighs 209 pounds or more has a BMI of 30, and so
is considered obese.
The BRFSS obesity data are underestimates of true obesity prevalence.
Research has found that both men and women often say they are taller
than they actually are and women often say they weigh less than they do
in telephone surveys. As a result, according to William Dietz, M.D.,
Ph.D., director of CDC's Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and
Obesity, the overall BRFSSS obesity prevalence estimate of 26.7 percent
is 7.2 percentage points lower than the national 2007-2008 estimate of
33.9 percent (nearly 73 million people) from the National Health and
Nutrition Examination Survey, for which individuals' height and weight
were measured rather than self-reported.
The BRFSS data highlight how obesity affects some populations more than
others. The highest prevalence was found among non-Hispanic blacks
overall, whose rate was 36.8 percent, and non-Hispanic black women,
whose rate was 41.9 percent. The rate for Hispanics was 30.7 percent.
The rate among all non-high school graduates was 32.9 percent. Obesity
prevalence was also higher in some regions than others. The South had
an obesity prevalence of 28.4 percent while the Midwest had a prevalence
of 28.2 percent.
"Obesity is a complex problem that requires both personal and community
action," said Dr. Dietz. "People in all communities should be able to
make healthy choices, but in order to make those choices there must be
healthy choices to make. We need to change our communities into places
where healthy eating and active living are the easiest path."
The federal government is intensifying its efforts to reduce and prevent
obesity through new initiatives such as the First Lady Michelle Obama's
Let's Move! campaign to address childhood obesity and the Communities
Putting Prevention to Work program. The CPPW program provides guidance
and funding to states and communities to change state and local
environments and policies related to diet and physical activity.