12 Unfathomable Obesity Stats [Make you want to cry]

Interactive Map for 2010

Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) have released their annual report on obesity, and there’s no sunshine here. The report is aptly titled F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2011 [download PDF].

The report is released every year (since 2006) and tracks obesity rates in all 50 states. The stats below make us want to cry. Seriously, we’re headed down a path of pain and agony for tens of millions of families, and for this entire nation.

1. Adult obesity rates rose in 16 states over the past year. NOT EVEN ONE state decreased.

2. Twelve states, led by the southeast, now have obesity rates above 30 percent: Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia.

3. Just 4 years ago, one state was above 30%.

4. Obesity rates exceed 25% in more than two-thirds of states (38 states).

5. Mississippi had the highest rate of obesity at 34.4%.

6. Colorado had the lowest rate at 19.8% . It is the only state with a rate below 20% (but next year will probably be above)

7.  Adult diabetes rates increased in 11 states and Washington, D.C. in the past year. In eight states, more than 10% of adults now have type 2 diabetes.

8. Education matters. High school dropouts have the highest rates of obesity (32.8%).

9. Money matters. Households that make less than $15,000 have a 33.8% obesity rate. Households that have an income above $50,000 have “only” a 24.6% obesity rate.

10. Over the past 15 years, seven states have doubled their rate of obesity. Another 10 states nearly doubled their obesity rate, with increases of at least 90%.

11. Over the past 15 years, diabetes rates have doubled in ten states. In 1995, only four states had diabetes rates above 6%. Now, 43 have diabetes rates over 7% and 32 have rates above 8%.

12. Ten years ago, no state had an obesity rate above 24%, and now 43 states have higher obesity rates than the state that was the highest in 2000.

Here’s what needs to be done:

A) The government must recognize we are in a state of emergency and act accordingly. Many more people are dying and suffering from the obesity epidemic than in any terror attack on this country.

B) While physical activity is important, part of healthy living, the main driver of obesity is excess food consumption. Let’s all agree on that, despite what soft drink company lobbies say.

C) Subsidies for corn and soy should be transferred immediately to fruits and vegetables. Junk food should be expensive, healthy food should be cheap.

D) Kids must not be exposed to junk food and fast food marketing.

E) Food companies must be beholden to a much higher standard when it comes to “health claims” and nutrition labeling.

Now, to all of you who are going to pull the “Nanny State” card, get a grip. This is not about people having free choice versus excess government intervention. This is about much needed public policy to protect consumers. No corporate self regulation will ever do that.

What else can we do?

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  • http://whosmydaddy.wordpress.com/ Cassie

    And people wonder why I love spin class…

  • Lindsay

    Sugar and sweets used to be an occasional thing. Limit the amount of sugar in our foods and obesity will diminish. There’s sugar in everything. From cereal to applesauce to peanut butter. It’s amazing to me to look at a label of something and find a sweetener in the top 5 ingredients. There’s no reason for it other than the fact that food corps are very aware of the sugar addiction. I understand their need for sales, but food manufacturing shouldn’t be about more money for big wigs, ideally, it should be about longevity of consumers lives.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kenleebow Ken Leebow

    #13 – Colorado, the “slimmest” state, knows it has a problem. It spends over $800-million annually on obesity-related disease. So, it has created a website to assist - http://movement.livewellcolorado.org Way to go Colorado!

    BTW, I live in the Southeast and it’s very easy to understand why we are #1 in obesity Here’s my main street: http://www.themainstreetdiet.com

  • http://www.thefrugaldietitian.com Nancy – The Frugal dietitian

    Start by changing the SNAP program (food stamps) and the choices that can be made.  Funny how the gov’t wants to keep putting restrictions on manufacturers ability to advertise and produce unhealthy food but then allows SNAP participants to buy those products!!!

    • AMB

      Oddly, it seems that the government can stetch their dollars the same way by NOT making people buy healthier food… round & round we go!

    • AMB

      Oddly, it seems that the government can stetch their dollars the same way by NOT making people buy healthier food… round & round we go!

    • http://twitter.com/Sk88queen Sk88queen

      Yeah…used to be you couldn’t buy all sorts of junk with Food Stamps. I now see where hot wing and fried fish joints take EBT cards. What gives? On one hand the government wants to offer health care to all while on the other hand they’re contributing to the need for it. Its the same with these cheese and corn subsidies. The government subsidizes cheese purchases for Dominos, Pizza Hut, etc. so they can offer $5 disks of death all the while telling people they need to eat healthier.

      • Row12

        As far as I know, you could always principally buy junk with food stamps.  In the 80′s, my local food co-op applied to be able to accept food stamps and were given a long list of products they HAD to carry in order to be eligible.  Most of it was processed food, high in sugar.  The one item that sticks out in my memory was Kix cereal.  The co-op asked permission to offer their house blend organic granolas in lieu of the Kix, their house-made peanut butter in lieu of Jif, and so on, even though that meant the co-op would essentially lose money on those sales.  The gov’t said no. The food stamp program, more than a support for the poor, has become another example of corporate welfare.  Last month I heard a woman trying to use her food stamps to buy multi-grain bread at the farmer’s market.  She was told the bread counted as a processed food and therefore wasn’t food stamp eligible.  Meanwhile, she is free to use it for a case of Coke at Walmart. What hypocrisy. Our food stamp tax dollars have long been going to make poor children sick and corporations like General Mills rich.

  • Sketch

    This post is funny but sad – you try to head off the “nanny state” argument, but the very FIRST THING you say that “needs” to be done is “The government must… act accordingly”. How about you (and every other big-government au pair) stop sucking the the gov’t teet, and start taking care of yourself. Try to lead by example for a change. I have to agree with points B & D. Point B – Subsidies (IMO) should be banned outright, but it gives you au pairs (and corporate bigwigs) a warm and fuzzy to think that money stolen from people will go to YOUR initiative instead of someone else’s. Anything other than getting rid of subsidies is political posturing at best. Point E will solve itself if people start putting their money elsewhere (i.e. points B & D), sans government intervention.Corporate regulation may never be to your satisfaction. BUT, the one thing that IS certain, is that corporations follow the money. Take your money elsewhere. THATS what you can do. Stop screwing with other people’s money and other people’s decisions, lest one day they decide to screw with yours.

    • Reformed junk foodie

      How is fooducate sucking at the teet exactly? I’d say they are absolutely leading by example, putting them in a pretty good position to criticize the status quo.

      I agree wholeheartedly people need to take responsibility for their own behavior. But the problems the country will face while we wait for that to happen are not insignificant. Sometimes people only change when they are forced to.

      Unfortunately, the state of nutrition in this country (and the cost of obesity related health issues) warrants some kind of intervention by an entity large enough to have a wide spread affect. Unless General Mills is going to lead the charge, looks like the government will have to step up. After all, its a lot of government decisions egged on by big business that have led to this mess.

      • Sketch

        you “agree wholeheartedly people need to take responsibility for their own behavior” then you end with “its a lot of government decisions egged on by big business that have led to this mess.” Are you on anti-schizophrenic medications? are you current on those meds?

        You answered your own question. Your convoluted post shows just how attached and dependent you are on gov’t teets/handouts/guidelines and “requirements”. the government does not tell people to eat twinkies or mcD’s or pizzhut or frozen waffles… its not their place nor should it ever be.

        • Lauren

          You are being so disrespectful, and I do not appreciate your harsh comments to the author and other commentors. The point is that we need BOTH things: personal responsibility AND government regulations. Why? Because corporations are manipulative and work for the biggest profit possible. People can’t make good, healthy, sustainable choices until the options are there for them.

          If we want to have an impact, we need to work together, not beat each other down and call each other schizophrenics. So counterproductive.

          • Sketch

            if they didn’t hurt, they wouldn’t be called “feelings”. Get over it.  I’m not a PC tree hugger. I’m the typical middle-class white guy and I don’t apologize for it. I’m underemployed, and over taxed and people like you want to take more of my money. You stated that we need both gov’t regs and personal responsibility. We do NOT need BOTH as one negates the other. What people NEED is education and its up them them as INDIVIDUALS to get it. You act as if Gov’t has nothing but good intentions for us, yet most people here are educated enough to know that they (the gov’t) are in bed with the corporations/conglomerates. Yes, People need to know what they’re eating but its called due diligence. and the companies that do the better job of educating people will gain the rewards of more profits (as their customers will live longer).

          • http://twitter.com/lauren_015 Lauren Smith

            You’re speaking to me as if I’m some spoiled rich girl in Southern California. Actually, I’m a college student at a state university in South Dakota. I’m surviving off student loans right now. Do you think I enjoy spending all my money on organic produce? When all my friends are buying junk food for way cheaper? No. Which is why I want government regulation to overhaul this stupid system: produce should be cheaper than junk food.

          • Sketch

            uh – well no. First – you see my initial comment was to the author, then to “Reformed junk foodie”, then to “Karyn”. Unless you are the author of the original article (no by-line), I was not talking to you “as if ” anything. Second – I know you’re not from So. Cal. Otherwise, you’d have been spouting off about PETA and how “meat is murder”, extolling the benefits of a vegan diet and who’s on the next season of DWTS. Third – (hey Tess, I can count to potato!) i agree with you that prices should be cheaper (and politicians should be honest, yadda yadda yadda) – but thats not free-market is it? no, price controls are socialistic – if not fascist (depending on how they’re enforced). Granted, through the current gov’t interference and subsidies, the free market is a dead-idea, but that’s reason to roll over. junk food is primarily made by machines. produce is made by nature, but harvested by people who demand pay for their work. its a pretty classic conundrum. either way – if it requires more physical labor (as produce does), it will be more expensive…. Fourth – If you’re okay with Subsidies, why don’t you give one of your class grades (I’ll assume all A’s) to a classmate in return for one of their C’s or D’s… balance your grades out between the two… doesn’t that idea work for you? you didn’t need that A anyway – you have too many. why not share your grades? everyone else is just disadvantaged.

          • http://www.facebook.com/ArtFlywheel Art Flywheel


          • Sketch

            I got 99 problems…


          • Tess

            You’re probably “underemployed” because you’re ignorant and unintelligent. I don’t see how these suggestions people are making have much at all to do with taking more of your money. For instance, if the money the government dedicates to subsidizing corn and soy went instead to subsidizing fruit and vegetables, that would merely be redirecting the money that you already give to the government. See how that works, or need me to make it a little more clear for your small, white, middle-class mind?

            Furthermore, one does not negate the other. If the government, for instance, subsidized fruit and vegetables, it would make these products more widely available and less expensive. That doesn’t mean junk food won’t be available. It will still be in our restaurants, grocery stores, and pantries. But the consumer has free will and gets to make a CHOICE about what to eat. So, there you go. The government steps in and makes it easier for people to make the right choice, but people still have choice. Again, see how it works? One does not negate the other. 

            We agree on one point, and that is that people NEED education. You, for instance, are a great example of how people could stand to be a little more educated. 

          • sketch

            oooh. looks like i hit a nerve. maybe your last one too… OTR? how about the government not take ANY of my money to subsidize ANYTHING?. How about allowing  me to choose to spend what money I have left after taxes on what I choose to – be it junk food, grass fed free range beef or maybe some college credits to major in womens studies so then i can get MORE subsidies in my student loans that will increase college tuition even MORE… but i guess you got that angle covered. the FIRST thing you people look for is HELP from the gov’t. something is wrong – the gov’t will help. why do you GROW a set a and help your self instead of demanding the gov’t step in and regulate even MORE of our lives. but what do i know? i’m a retard working for YOUR jacked up subsidies.

          • Tommy

            Yup.  Ignorant.  

          • Sketch

            Hey thanks for adding to the conversation there, Thomas. Did you have to use spell check on that deep insight into your personality?  do have ANYTHING to offer in this conversation or are you just trolling?

          • meta99

            Removing all subsidies is not a bad idea………….

          • mbf

            So I’m guessing you aren’t a fan of buying into health insurance programs but you will certainly want medical aide when you are dying due to diabetes-related complications or a heart attack. Who will pay for that? You’re conveniently forgetting that in our Capitalist society that money
            is not your money; you earn it in order to spend it and keep the
            machine running.
            Government regulation is all about balance. There is a major imbalance now and it is due to corporations working outside of the boundaries that create the balance thereby reducing the need for government regulation. Unfortunately, whenever the government has decided to step in they do so half-heartedly and the problems remain.

          • Karyn

            “The point is that we need BOTH things: personal responsibility AND government regulations.”

            THIS.  Thank you.  I get so tired of seeing these things presented as a (false) dichotomy, when the truth is that both individual AND government responsibility are essential to a well-functioning society.  The trick is in finding the right balance, not in abolishing one or the other.  If we really didn’t need any government regulation of anything, we wouldn’t need government, and frankly, one look at the human race tells me that is not a viable solution.

          • Ray Claude

            I registered the fact that I appreciated your comments. I suggest, however, that we do not need any more regulations until government regains is intended station as a watchdog of commerce. I suggest that options (or, at least, good bases) are already available for people to use in making propitious choices. I have laid many of them out at http://hyperportal.blogspot.com. (It is not my intention to use this forum as a platform for my writing on an ongoing basis. Sorry. Let me knpw if I offend.)

        • Reformed junk foodie

          Could you tell me what teets, handouts, guidelines and/or requirements I’m dependent on? I’m talking about harmful substances that people consume unknowingly or without full understanding of what they are consuming. I am completely ok with the government regulating this, whether its trans fat or mercury.  People can still chose to eat whatever they want, as is their right, but whats the problem with helping people not poison themselves?

        • Reformed junk foodie

          Also, part of the problem is that it is not only the obvious stuff (i.e. twinkies, mcD’s, pizzahut, etc.) that is bad for you.

        • Michelle Schulp

          While I am inclined to agree with less government intrusion (and PLEASE let’s get rid of subsidies) I am also inclined to agree with the statement that “a lot of government decisions egged on by big business have led to this mess.” I have no problem with big business, but when they’re in bed with big government it’s a recipe for disaster, and they have been in this country for quite some time (free market? don’t make me laugh, it hasn’t been free for decades if not more). The government will have to take an active role in this, even if their role is merely to reverse the destructive policies that have been put into place at the request of past lobbyists and special interest groups. If the government pulls back a lot of these things, it can solve a lot of the problems.

          But, we also can’t argue with the fact that we are hardwired to like junk (aka fat, sugar, salt). While we wouldn’t crave it to such extremes if we weren’t exposed to it in the first place, the fact is that we HAVE been, and we’ll have to deal with the consequences of our society having gotten used to crappier and less “real” food. I’m not sure at this point what the solution should be- my libertarian tendencies are screaming “plz not teh gubermints!” but at the same time I’m not sure we’d be able to make all those individual decisions on our own if evolution is working against us.

      • Free Markets = Freedom

        Actually, it’s government intervention that has led us to this mess (government school lunch programs, subsidizing unhealthy foods etc.) so it makes absolutely no sense to rely on the government to get us out of it.  The government simply needs to STOP subsidizing crops in general (with our tax dollars) and allow the market to work on its own.

        Furthermore, “people only change when they are forced to”.  How dare you?  Who are you to decide what’s best for someone else?  Worry about yourself.

        • BookwormBev

          If you think the government should get out of food, maybe you prefer to go back to the 19th century when there were no food safety laws and when you ate sausage there was a chance it contained someone’s finger or urine or feces.

      • meta99

        How could General Mills or General Foods possibly lead the charge when it is grains and sugars that are primarily responsible for the obesity epidemic?

        • Daniel K

          Grains aren’t responsible for the obesity epidemic. People are.

    • AMB

      putting our money elsewhere requires an aweful lot of reasearch in the first place to find places that the BIG MONEY has NOT already snatched up or put out of business! We’re not screwing with “other people’s money” the way you’d like to make it sound… and yes… TODAY is the day… as was yesterday, when “they” decided to screw with mine! My money has bought lies & deceit & has few places left to go that huge corporations don’t have thier thumb on already. You seem to think you’re entitled to an opinion… and you are… as are we. Have your opinion & be NICE with it! Have a nice day, Sketch! May God bless you, too!  : )

      • Sketch

        this is me being nice. The strange thing is that i see a LOT of people who agree with me – but not how i express it because they “don’t want to offend”. well guess what? I’m tired of being the one offended. I’m TIRED of the crap being shoved down our throats as if its holy writ. I’m tired of the conservatives and the liberals dividing us on every damn topic – when they are ALL trying to take our choices away from us by making decisions for us.  I don’t want people who can’t make decisions for their own family making decisions for me or mine. So yes, i do get fired up about this BS. The question is – why aren’t the rest of you?

        • Tommy

          Why aren’t the rest of us?  Because most of us aren’t ignorant blowhards.

          • Sketch

            Again with the deep thoughts. and again, you have NOTHING to offer in the conversation other than insults. Insult all you want, but If you have no opinion to offer on the current post, please STFU and GBTW.  Better to be called a name by a coward than to BE one. At least people here know where I stand – whereas people know where you’re afraid to. i sincerely hope that you don’t have kids.

    • Potsyweber200

      Is “au pair” your word of the day? People have already screwed with all our money dork. Tranfering the already screwed with money to something healthier isn’t going to mess with your already screwed up standards on reality in America.

      • Sketch

        you had to look it up, didn’t you? “Transferring” is spelled with two r’s, not to mention that I’m against “transferring” money to ANYONE. Did you even READ my posts before you decided to crap? maybe I’ll try to start incorporating more graphics into my posts…

  • Ray Claude

    I like your article. However, I can not help but wonder when we will make up our minds to take meaningful steps to make such articles unnecessary. I suggest that we are looking at human nutrition using badly distorted guidelines. I have more on this at http://hyperportal.blogspot.com. I leave the door open so that you might participate.

  • Karengiangrosso

    wow! everyone needs to read this. eye opener! I believe that stress eating is what is driving this problem. How do we address that??

  • Noel Mathur

    Having lived in Europe for a decade and now living in the US for just 6 months, I can see the stark difference in availability of healthy food and the amount you pay for it. In the US, it looks like subsidies are like inverted food pyramid, unhealthy foods are subsidized maximum and healthy foods like fruits and vegetables are subsidized least. Secondly, if my understanding is correct, the ‘fatter’ states are among the poor states (socio-economically) and they can’t make any better choices due to their financial situation. I believe, for the US, there is an urgent need to make a policy change if it wants healthy population and wants to spend less money on treating those illnesses caused by obesity.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Thomas-Swanson/1376154523 Thomas Swanson

      The problem is, that the powers that be need to acknowledge that they have been wrong for decades… I just don’t see that happening.

      • mbf

        The only “powers that be” that you speak of are corporations and their lobbyists. Consumers hold buying power, but they have been advertised to death into using that power to buy processed foods.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=565318530 Nita Ostroff

           Our government is heavily invested into keeping the status quo. It wouldn’t be possible for the system to be like it is if the government didn’t allow it and pass laws enabling corporate control of our plates. The government makes no money from healthy people.

          • lucindamaria

            Nor does the huge, huge health care industry. 25% of the GNP is directly related to health care.

  • Daria

    This is very alarming to see most of the country in red.
    The government does need to act accordingly, by admitting they were wrong with their nutrition recommendations.  We need to go back to eating natural sources of fat like animal fats and olive and coconut oil.  We need to stop eating so much grain based foods and definitely the processed foods.  But there is only so much a government can do, people need to start cooking for themselves again and stop relying on restaurants and large corporations to feed them.  People need to do their own research on ideal human diets.

  • laura

    I disagree that excess food consumption is the problem. http://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/exandwtloss.html  From my own personal experience if I am exercising a lot I can eat whatever I want.  I’m not saying food consumption isn’t a problem and I make every effort to avoid processed food and advertising in general, but I think exercise is undervalued and may be the more important variable.   Thus we should reinstate recess and PE in schools across the nation and we should encourage kids to walk to school.  The same goes for adults we should create more walkable and bikable communities, preferably creating the ability to walk to fresh, healthy food choices.   Shopping should be created with closely spaced stores that make driving ridiculous, instead of separate strip malls each 1/4 – 1/2 mile away from each other and require walking across vast parking lots and busy streets with no cross-walks.  

    • Warren Burden

      If you eat 6000 calories a day but only burn off 3000 calories per day you will gain weight. Period. People need to eat less and exercise more – doing both is the solution to this problem.

    • Michelle Schulp

      As long as we have a more useful version of PE that wasn’t so sports-centric… for those of us who aren’t good at sports, we spent our whole childhood avoiding doing anything in PE, trying to stay far, far away from whoever was throwing/hurling/tossing/hitting any balls. There are plenty of awesome physical activities that don’t involve competition (and plenty of competitive athletic opportunities after school and extracurricular, for those people that do like them).

      • http://twitter.com/lauren_015 Lauren Smith

        Truth. I hated PE. Especially because it was co-ed. The guys made a joke out of volleyball. They murdered us in hockey to the point where I was afraid of even participating because they were so aggressive and competitive. No fun. No fun at all.

        Oh, and then there was the fact that I had PE second period of the day. As if I were willing to sweat at 9 in the morning…

  • Chad

    I disagree that excess food consumption is the cause. It’s excess carbohydrate consumption paired with little to no physical activity. Obesity started to rapidly increase when “low fat” was adopted as our national diet. We’ve gotten fatter, sicker, and heart disease has actually increased.

  • Chad

    I disagree that excess food consumption is the cause. It’s excess carbohydrate consumption paired with little to no physical activity. Obesity started to rapidly increase when “low fat” was adopted as our national diet. We’ve gotten fatter, sicker, and heart disease has actually increased.

    • Gina

      I agree. The push for a “low-fat” diet has led to huge consumption of high carbohydrate processed foods and the body can’t handle all that carbohydrate. I read that our diets are something like 55% carbohydrate and we should be consuming about 30%. Pancreas shuts down, etc. etc.

      • Warren

        I disagree with both of these posts. Fat is the only thing you actually NEED in your diet to survive. You can survive without protein or carbs for a very, very long time. Also, the obesity epidemic isn’t about ‘bad carbs’ (though I do agree they make people more insulin sensitive, potentially leading to Type 2 Diabetes) it’s about calories in vs calories out. It’s simple math! People are eating WAY too much and not burning enough off. It is a combination of eating less and moving more that will fix this problem.

        Having gone from 5’9″ 185lbs to 155lbs in 5 months I can say I was on the path to being on the wrong side of this statistic but simple math saved me. I ate less (also eating more whole foods, no junk, lean meats & fish – all of it being organic) and exercised more. Being healthy is SIMPLE but not EASY, people don’t seem to see the difference in this.

        • Tommy

          I think you’re not quite sure what you’re talking about.  Body needs protein.

          • Sketch

            And now you’re an expert on cellular metabolism?? oh, please do explain. I was always under the impression (at high level) that fat, carbs and protein were synthesized and catabolized at the molecular level to “feed” cells… i must have been wrong. Could you also further explain Krebs Cycle? Please continue, doctor Thomas. We’re all atwitter.

  • Geographer

    Sad news. However, as a geographer I feel the need to suggest getting a map that actually matches the statistics given in the text. For example, if as stated no states are below 20% now, why are 11 states shown to be <20% obesity on the map? And on the childhood map, many states are shown in a shade of blue that isn't even represented in the legend…

    • Sharonkolker

      I thought the same thing.  But, the map shows both adult and childhood stats.  If you hover over the stat, it will say what the rate is.  It makes more sense then.  Although I never did figure out the color thing.  :)

  • http://twitter.com/Miss_Ash_of_PP PerilouslyPrecocious

    I disagree… I don’t think the government should be involved in any of the food regulation beyond truthful labeling.

    Forgive me for being blunt about this, but it seems to me that obesity is the result of poor choices by the person putting food in their mouth.  It’s always a choice.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rory.duckworth Rory R Duckworth

    Let make everyone sign up for a triathlon. I did….. and got addicted to being healthy and lost 60lbs best decision of my life! We could make everyone download the fooducated app :) but really my idea would be to promote healthy was of living with Tax incentives for example let’s give a tax break for gym memberships or athletic events like 5k, marathons or Ironmans. You start making people do things and they shut down. you give someone a good reason like money and they jump to the challenge. Just an Idea!

  • http://www.facebook.com/rory.duckworth Rory R Duckworth

    Let’s make everyone sign up for a triathlon. I did….. and got addicted to being healthy and lost 60lbs best decision of my life! We could make everyone download the fooducated app :) but really my idea would be to promote healthy was of living with Tax incentives for example let’s give a tax break for gym memberships or athletic events like 5k, marathons or Ironmans. You start making people do things and they shut down. you give someone a good reason like “money” and they jump to the challenge. Just an Idea!

  • http://www.knowfoodnow.com Know Food Now

    The Surgeon General’s Report concludes that “Americans will be more likely to change their (eating) behavior if they have a meaningful reward—something more than just reaching a certain weight or BMI measurement.”  

    Too bad we need our government to tell us that life is worth living!http://www.knowfoodnow.com/2011/06/weight-loss-diet-conundrum-in-your_18.html

  • Susannah

    I agree with everything here except that this state of things is an emergency. Fat people are generally NOT suffering from their fat- except for emotional suffering brought on by being stigmatized. Being fat is about as bad for your health as being tall. The fact that most Americans are sedentary, malnourished and depressed IS a state of emergency, and I strongly support switching subsidies to fruits and vegetables as well as building or repurposing spaces that are walkable and cyclist-friendly.

    • Michelle Schulp

       I agree with this- let’s not focus on the fatness, let’s focus on health. Encouraging people to make better food choices, lead a more active lifestyle, and choose more healthy behaviors. A number on a scale doesn’t tell any story, and shaming people for that number won’t encourage them to try to better their lives, it just adds guilt on top of possible health problems. And there are plenty of “obese” people that are in great health physically.

      • Reformed junk foodie

        Not trying to instigate, but can it really be true that “…there are plenty of ‘obese’ people that are in great health physically”?

        I only ask because my understanding of the definition of obese is that the physical characteristics are such that the person’s health is adversely affected by their size, bmi estimate, waist/hip ratio.

        I agree that you can be “overweight” and still be physically active, in good health, have good blood pressure, etc. However, doesn’t the extra weight that would classify someone as obese or even overweight take a toll on the body in and of itself?

        • Susannah

          The definition of “obese” refers solely to the BMI/body composition, not to any health effects the fat may cause.  A healthy body will adjust to the obesity in terms of bone density and muscle strength, et cetera.  Check out http://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/ – Dances with Fat’s Ragen Chastain is living proof that obesity can be paired with not just good health, but athleticism.  Also, I’ll remind you of Kelly Gneiting, the sumo wrestler who recently ran the L.A. Marathon.

          I’m not trying to prove my point here with anecdata, but I do want folks to realize that fat can be just another organ in a healthy body.  The problems that are commonly associated with obesity can be explained just as well by the sedentary habits of most people.

          I am well into the obese range, with a BMI of 35 at my height of 5’8″ and weight of 230.  Yet I’m disgustingly healthy- my only health concern is fibromyalgia, which I manage with diet and exercise.  My favorite form of exercise is running- I run 10Ks and 5Ks, and I’m training right now for Warrior Dash, which promises to be a ton of fun! 

          • Michelle Schulp

            Exactly. Plus the fact that BMI is a pretty useless measurement- it’s merely a height to weight ratio. Has nothing to do with body composition (many bodybuilders with extremely low levels of fat are considered obese by BMI standards because muscle weighs more than fat) or the health of the person. I have been a skinny, unhealthy person my entire life- my BMI is “great”, but up until the last two years I rarely exercised, and lived off processed food and junk food.

            There are many other much more useful indicators of health that can be checked for, though even those are not perfect (high cholesterol can be somewhat hereditary, for one thing) and they should all be taken in context of a bigger picture, rather than elevating one number as a particular standard.

            I love the Dances With Fat blog and wondered if anyone would bring it up. :)

          • bystander

            Your knees are bearing a lot more weight than they were designed for.  Of course with the advances in surgery, many people think nothing of having a total knee arthroplasty done in middle age, but it does inccrease medical costs for us all.  The fibromyalgia is thought to be associated with carrying excess weight.  Good luck in the future.    

        • mbf

          Yes definitely. I agree with you whole-heartedly here. We are using the term “great health” very loosely here. A person does not become overweight by eating regular portions of food, or even overeating on healthy options. At least not at the rate of obesity we are currently seeing in the map above. You can be overweight and in relatively good health, for now. But unless you reduce your amount of fat it will eventually catch up with you.

    • Tommy

      Are you serious?  You’re absolutely deluded if you think being fat doesn’t affect your health.  Wow.  Ignorance abounds.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1451565152 Beverly Alexander

      What you say is true only if you consider it healthy to have heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. And, although cutting out junk food is a good idea, we also need to cut out refined everything and that includes oil. Last, read The China Study by T. Colin Campbell. An eye-opener!

  • Anonymous

    In Europe the situation is a little better, but quickly worsening and becoming similar to the US:

    For example, this is the current situation for adults:

    But when it comes to kids overweight (legend is in italian: cyan means data not available):

    You see that “slim” countries in southern europe (like Italy) have the highest overweight percentage.

    I think that the epidemy has already come to Europe, unfortunately.
    Let’s find a cure together !

  • Paceplanet

    Remember juice glasses.  Those little glasses we had @ breakfast, along with a large glass of whole milk?  Juice was a special treat.  If we were thirsty, we drank water.

  • jen

    Does anyone else see a problem with BMI being used to define obesity?  I completely believe that obesity is a major issue, but BMI is not exactly reliable, and does not account of larger body types.

  • Weberd01

    “Education matters. High school dropouts have the highest rates of obesity (32.8%)”

    I think what you meant is that poverty matters. Even “uneducated” people know that fried chicken and chocolate isn’t as healthy as an apple and a carrot, but frequently they lack the funds to do anything about it.

    You statement makes as much sense as my college geography professor who inferred that, “Education makes women infertile. Countries with higher rates of female education have lower birth rates, so if you want to have children you shouldn’t complete your college education.”

    I’m pretty sure there are other factors.

  • LibertysTears

    I have a theory..  I believe that the nutritional value of the food has diminished due to the way we farm and what is being done to our food from GMO’s  to additives and pesticides.  Our bodies are starving in this way and so we keep eating to get what we need and it becomes a vicious circle. And because everything has sugar these days, it just makes it that much worse.  Don’t know whether I’m right or not, but it seems to me the “smarter” we are and the more we manipulate or food, from the source to the end product, the fatter we get.

  • Alexander Gee

    LMAO one in three people. That is disgusting. I have a solution make liposuction cheaper and use the fat recovered to make tasty tasty butter! The cycle is complete!

  • EH

    How about an end to fat shaming.

  • freedomrocks

     dislike this article!!!!!  government should have nothing to do with the foods people eat, the health care people get, trying to prolong the life of every single person – if people eat themselves into oblivion… they face the consequence for their actions… there may be people who TRULY have a legitimate problem and that should be medically helped if at all possible but… most people have the physical ability to control their actions and just choose not to… that is that individual’s fault… not the government’s fault… not the tv’s fault… not the maker of soda’s fault… that individual has a choice… he just makes the wrong one time and again and pays for it eventually….

    • Itmatters

      I like the idea that there are many people immediately jumping on the anti-big government band wagon. Thank you. The question I have is, where the heck have you been the last 6 elections? Congress, the Senate, the Whitehouse, and most state offices are filled with Demovrats and Republicans… or should I say Communists and Socialists. Welcome to Amerika, the U.S.S.A.

    • Liz

      If it was truy a question of individual accountability then we would see near identical rates of obesity in all economic strata. We don’t. The poorer you are the fatter you are likely to be. The relationship between empty calories and govt subsidies is common knowledge. That is the actual govt meddling you should be angry about instead of grinding your wheels over a neocon meme.

  • Kitkat Twizzler

    My husband is from England and he says there is a great amount of difference in healthy foods. Also – adverts for candy and junk food only come on tv after a time when little kids are sleeping so they are not exposed to it much. Food is also so much cheaper over there – he complains about the prices regularly for veg and fruit here in the US.  

    • Donald Carter

      I just spent a year in England and their produce, and all groceries, are MUCH more expensive than in the US.  I have no idea what your husband is talking about.  Also, there are tons of fat people in Britain and they eat a lot of sweets.  It didn’t feel much different than American in terms of how many fat people their are.  In fact there were many more fat people in London than there are in Austin where I am from.  

  • Reinventingandrea

    Why does the government need to do anything? Whatever happened to personal accountability? Why is it that when we as Americans “mess up” we expect Uncle Sam to bail us out. No one is forcing you to eat anything that’s making you unhealthy. Only you are responsible for you.

  • Joysofpi

    There are still plenty of healthy people in this country. Why are we blaming fast food when 70% of Americans are able to make healthy weight management decisions. It comes down to personal responsibility- no one forces you to be obese, it develops over a lifetime of bad choices. What we neeed is education so people can make the right choices. Fast food is a business and they are just giving people what they want. As long as there is a demand for greasy disgusting unhealthy food, there will be people out there to provide it. Nutritional information is all over the place, people just need to use it.

    • Max Heyworth

      Actually, no, less than 40% of Americans are able to make healthy weight management decisions. This article speaks strictly of the obese population in America, not the overweight, which is north of 60%. And yes, given the nature of certain standards, otherwise healthy individuals are classified as overweight, but those are largely outliers.

  • Hairsanctuary

    I agree 100% !!

  • Connoramsden

    it would really help if healthy food wasn’t so expensive.

  • Tyroneasteele

    I disagree on the government interference. At all costs, keep them out of the problem.

    • Max Heyworth

      Right, because we’ve shown with such irrefutable proof that we know how to handle the matter ourselves.

      Man, get real. The government doesn’t have to pack your lunch for you to bring progress to consumer advocacy. They CAN, however, limit the influence wielded by lobbies and manufacturers who flood the landscape with salt, fat, sugar, nicotine, caffeine, taurine, and any of the other myriad health hazards we consume hourly. Obesity in this country has reached a point now where it’s everyone’s problem, and if the government is to serve the people, it’s going to use its power to effect (not “affect,” before you say anything) a change in the way our culture consumes. Liberty and freedom don’t excuse us from personal responsibility, and if we can’t behave in a manner that considers how our lifestyles affect others, then someone has to step in.

  • Jean

    Unfortunately the food lobbies for soy, corn etc have a lot of pull. I personally think things will get worse before they get better. We really need to get good , honest people in government, and maybe get rid of big corporations. i honestly don’t know. i am an RN and did school nursing for awhile. I taught the kids good nutrition, then the kids went on their break to have cookies and koolade. I thought “Why bother” Jean

  • Max Heyworth


    We love our ex-tra cheeeeeese! And wheennn it’s time, We’ll staaaaand in lineFor by-pass sur-ger-ieeees!

  • Seajayp

    As a nation, we are digging our graves with our TEETH. People SAY they want to be slender, but eat like a Sumo wrestler. They SAY they want to be financially independent, but sit on their butts instead of making an effort to gain financial stability. They SAY they want to be well liked and popular, but make remarks such as the above. I am 86+ years of age, 6’0′, 200lbs. have a 36′ waist, 43′ chest, do my own yard work, wash and polish my cars, take walks and do some bicycling, and the doctor told me that I have another 15 years to live. I bought 5 lbs. sugar 3 years ago and still have some left. Keep the government out of our food choices and let the choice up to the individual.

    • Liz

      The older generation is the key to getting out of this mess. We used to know how to live and behave reasonably. Thank you, sir.

  • Virtuatonyroberts

    Hormons in the food, obesity in people? Hmmmm just saying….. ya think …

  • Trevia

    I have long said that if people really cared about our health, good nutritious food would be very cheap and easy to come by.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marie-Cecchini-Sternquist/100001889263625 Marie Cecchini Sternquist

    I wholeheartedly agree with these recommendations, especially getting rid of subsidies; this is a problem of national and economic concern, not to mention personal health.

    Two important points:
    1. as I read the comment string, I still see things like “cut out fats” and “eat whole grains” etc. These are not healthy ideas and are part of the problem. We need to become educated and in a hurry. Unfortunately, we are 4th generation (or more) ignorant and these ideas along with the food pyramid are rampant in authoritative places including text books, cub scouts and more. A *major* re-education campaign must be launched, one that takes into account physiology and not poorly designed studies that forward incorrect conclusions (and the opportunistic corporations that have designed, sponsored, or at best promoted research conclusions that served their purposes).

    2. Many things are referred to as food that are truly anti-food. The word “food” has a legal meaning that apparently includes things like chewing gum. Perhaps consider two different categories: food should be reserved for those items that are truly nutritious, keep us alive, and help us grow. I personally like the label “anti-food” for processed, preservative-laden junk. Probably “groceries” is more PC, and I understand the squabbling that will occur and has occurred for a century resulting in the USDA “Food” Pyramid and other non-nutritious ideas.

    We are well beyond the point of this being an “emergency.” A far more immediate, drastic and unpleasant-for-some change is needed to restore health and well being to our families and communities. Research now shows that nutrient status affects the next generation in ways that are beyond imagination. What Francis Pottenger discovered in the 1930′s is being re-demonstrated using current research techniques. This is scary.

  • Benalbanach

    Why not go after the CEOs of the fast-food operations for Un-American activity.? Mind you the activities of CEOs these days has become decidedly American…When Americans chant USA  USA  they are being strictly geographic.

  • Jenifermcnair

    I do believe that poor choices in lifestyle make up “some” of the weight issues in this country…but as a woman who has fought a non existant thyroid for nearly 12 years I think it really has more to do with hormones, preservatives, and pesticides they are putting in our food.  There is no other way to explain how this could be happening to an entire nation all within a generation of completely altered food process. I have more friends ending up with thyroid issues, diabetes, and gall bladders removed. Something has radically changed more than that people just turned into overeating, lazy slobs. I am an extremely active mother of four who watches every morsel that goes into my mouth and yet have battled  my weight for 12 years. I was a slender teen and young adult and then rapidly without any change to diet or activity gained almost 100 pounds in less than 9 months. Apparently I had severe thyroid disease. I kind of wonder how much of these kinds of problems are caused by the way foods are processed…

  • Geoff

    Unfortunately nothing is going to change.  Why?  Because the companies contributing to the obesity epidemic are also contributing to “Health Studies”  What a joke.  How can you stop the rot while you have McDonalds contributing to health research?  The more times they up-size you the more they can contribute to research to overcome obesity!
    Have you ever seen a dog catch its tail?

  • Geoff

    Unfortunately nothing is going to change.  Why?  Because the companies contributing to the obesity epidemic are also contributing to “Health Studies”  What a joke.  How can you stop the rot while you have McDonalds contributing to health research?  The more times they up-size you the more they can contribute to research to overcome obesity!
    Have you ever seen a dog catch its tail?

  • meta99

    These stats are already outdated… Things are now worse; no states under 20%…. check it out


  • Tossaway

    It’s not up to the corporations, or the authors of this article, to decide what’s good for us. A public policy that prevents me from buying junk food is in direct violation of the 10th Amendment. The Feds *have no authority* to decide for me what I can eat. People who are pushing “public policies” are lazy whiners- what you need to do is convince the general public to change its behavior, but that would take time and effort, so instead you whine to the government to get the government to use authority it does not have to force us to behave the way you think we ought to. Demand C above is partially right- get rid of the corn and soy subsidies. NO food should be subsidized. Yes, the main driver of obesity is excess food consumption- so convince the public to eat less food. Who do you think you are to try to force me to behave the way you want me to behave? I’d like to see the measurements of the people at TFAH and RWJF. I’ll bet there’s a lot more “do as I say and not as I do” than you want to admit.

    “People can’t make good, healthy, sustainable choices until the options are there for them. ” What nonsense. People *can* make what *you* think are good choices now, *but choose not to* because they think what *they* choose is a good choice. This is America! Who are you to demand the government take away my freedoms to do what *you* don’t like?

    “Do you think I enjoy spending all my money on organic produce?” Yes, I do, because you continue to do so as a result of *your choices*. This is a decision you made for yourself, with consequences that were known to you when you made your decision. Your *actions* show that you don’t believe you pay too much for your food, because if you really believed it was too expensive for the value you receive, you would exercise your freely available choice to buy something else. Your words do not express your thoughts as to the value of your choice, your actions do. You keep buying food that is more expensive than alternatives, and that proves that, regardless of what you say, you truly do not believe you are overpaying for what you get. Besides, any chemist can tell you that, since ALL food contains carbon compounds, then ALL food, without exception, is organic. For that matter, all the crude oil dumped into the Gulf is *raw*, *natural* AND *organic*, a healthy food buzzword trifecta! Yummy yummy!

    Produce costs more to produce than what you call junk food, which is why it costs more at the store. It should not be subsidized any more than, say, student loans (which I am also getting right now; I was getting them from a private bank until Obamacare screwed that up. Yes, the government takeover of student loans, and the subsequent screwing up of said loan system, was due to Obamacare. Read the law.)

    “But the consumer has free will and gets to make a CHOICE about what to eat.”  And they do that, RIGHT NOW, without produce subsidies. And some of the choices that people make that you don’t like are STILL the right choices. What incredible arrogance you have! You clearly offer yourself as an example of the people who need to be educated.  Remember, government health care subsidizes the consequences of what you think are bad choices. Perhaps if the government got out of the health care business and people had to directly face the consequences of eating what you think are bad food choices, then more people would stop making those choices. Why should I change when I can go on Medicare or some other government health program and get my pills paid for? Subsidized health care enables a lot of what you think are bad choices. Instead of spending money to subsidize what you consider to be the “right” food choices, maybe we should stop subsidizing the government health care that supports the “wrong” food choices. That way, you help force people to behave the way you think they should behave AND the taxpayers save money. Everybody wins!

  • Tgrason

    Is there an obesity problem? Seriously. I know we are getting fatter. I get that. I know it shortens lifespans and makes life more uncomfortable for people who CHOOSE to get fat by overeating. However, if government subsidies that distort the food market and government mandates that distort the health care market are removed, will we still have a “problem?” At that point, fat people will pay more for fatty foods and pay more for health care coverage. There’s nothing like making something expensive to curb behavior!

    I watch the same commercials as everyone else and shop at a perfectly normal supermarket, but I choose to buy things that are good for me and my family. We eat potato chips and McDonald’s now and then, but we’re all just fine and not obese because we don’t abuse those foods. Fat folks have brains too. They just choose not to use them when they eat.

    Also, there has been some sentiment in these postings that healthy food is expensive and that is why poor people are more likely to be fat. I’m calling BS on that one. We have the cheapest food in the world, and that includes healthy choices. Bananas, beans, rice, apples, chicken, carrots, and all the rest are very inexpensive. Getting 1500 to 2000 healthy calories a day is CHEAP.

  • Bsguru

    While I agree that our country needs to eat healthy, excercise and take care of ourselves the very worst thing that could happen is to have the government get involved any more than it is. The government has had it’s chance with departments like the the FDA and they’ve failed. Introducing more government control is never the answer. Americans need to get educated and change the market place by what they buy and put into their mouths. We need to be smarter consumers and less reliant on the government to solve our problems. Come on people, didn’t you read books like “1984″? Big govt bad, freedom good.

  • Knowfoodnow

    You are what you eat.  The phrase has been famous since 1940, yet obesity rates continue to rise.  It’s not a pretty picture.  But crop subsidies and big business do not limit your personal option to choose to eat a healthy diet.

  • mms

    I found this posting doing research on a paper related to eating disorders.  I don’t get it.  What happened to people in this country?  We are such hostile victims and no one is ever accountable for their own actions anymore because “we” have to save them from themselves.  In a matter of one generation….this is what we are?  If you want to save someone – do it on your dime on your time.  Get involved ‘before’ people reach a critical level if you really care so much.  Stop trying to homogenize everyone, and forcing others to fund and being punished for your guilt.  It’s sick, that people all over the world have more important things to worry about and people in this country are worried about adhering to the recommended food pyramid. 

  • Jules

    “The government must recognize we are in a state of emergency and act accordingly” – are we talking about the same government that just voted pizza a vegetable?

  • Josh B.

    It’s not the government’s job to make people eat right. When people are tired of being fat they’ll go on a diet. I did just that and lost 40 lbs. I’m back out of the obesity statistic and feeling great. I don’t need any government fingers in my dish! I’m sure everyone knows by now that there are significant health risks associated with obesity, and if they want to take the risk to satisfy their appetite, I say let them do it.

    • Liz

      I disagree. Now, if it didn’t have an affect on anyone else I would. But it does. Evonne pays when more people get diabetes and hert disease. Our insurance rates skyrocket. Taxes increase in order to cover medicare. And think about this: the military is becoming obese! How can we be protected by an unfit military? Think about fat police and firefighters. How safe does that make you feel? It’s a real problem that screws us all.

  • Donald Carter

    I will definitely gripe about a nanny state.  I choose to eat healthily and exercise, so I’m not fat.  Pretty easy.

  • Roomie

    Living in Ok, I can say it must be true that at least a third of adults here are obese, and many more are overweight.  I don’t claim any superiority, just because I am only 5 lbs over the ideal wt for my height at age 57.  However, I would like my fellow Okies to please stop treating me like I must be a drug addict or other similarly socially undesirable character just because I look different from them.  It’s getting to where normal weight persons are being discriminated against!

  • Redneckblackheart

    According to the CDC, all of the states are now above 20%. Here’s a good link for the lastest info.  http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/trends.HTML

  • phil

    what is the definition of obesity ,BMI is not reflecting sometime obesity.you can have a graphic say anything you want it doesn’t mean it s right.I noticed that in the US ,apart of the problem is portion control ,sodium and sugar intake .the other part is, it’s easier financially to get non healthy food that healthy food ,and it take tiem to make a good meal from scratch ,but that more a reflect of the way we live now than a nutritional issue .and do not buy organic anyway ,it’s a waste of money you just make the food industry richer .and you do not have access to our own garden either .is there a solution.Education:educate people of course but you know nutrition course are interesting but boring .be sure that the produce you buy is less expensive than process food .another point is moderation ,just eat what you ‘d like to eat but in moderation .A big mac every day is not the answer but if you eat one from time to time ,you will appreciate .some with soda .my though of the day even if this post is a year old .have a great day

  • Mary Jane

    Good wholesome food is expensive. That is why the stats are high for those who make less than 30,000 a year. We do not need more policies we need better parenting, less eating out, more thought in our daily meal planning, each house hold should have a plan without it there is no success. Less Government and yes I will pull the Nanny card. This country for the last forty years or more has continually dieted. From no starch, to more protein. From Weight Watchers to Jenny Craig. From Akins to Dinesh Ornish from Paleo diet to the rice diet. It is endless and we are fatter. It is not a one size fits all solution. It is what is more successful. People who feel the reward of looking and feeling better to anything they can put in their mouth will continue seeking out better things to eat if they can afford it. That is only one part of the problem. There is the psychological side. People eat when they are sedentary , when they are bored, when they want to celebrate, when they are depressed, and the more anyone especially finger pointers continue attacks on the new target “fat folks”, the more they will eat. The more bullies the more future fat kids will become fat adults. We need to shift the focus off of what that is costing “YOU’ to think this out further. If fat people continue to grow fat then they will surely die. Life is cut short so that does not translate to higher Medicare, Medicade, private insurers going up. They will not live that long. Yes diabetes is a factor but again it takes more than obesity to cause it in most cases it is genetic . For the ones who are worried about their dime going to pay another fat person health. You can stop your worry. After Obama care no one will be paying for anything. We do not have to balance a budget , our calories, we just consume, consume, without worry. This is the American attitude. Now go tell the cartel that you want to trim back the results of their handiwork we have kids dying everyday from drugs in this country I do not see anyone speaking out . I do not see mayor Bloomberg speaking out to the Cartel. No he is afraid like most critics!

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  • Jeff Wasden

    Obesity is not a problem for the government to solve. Government intervention into the food supply is a big part of the problem. Reducing obesity requires that we all accept personal responsibility for what we put into our own mouths. Obesity is solved at home. People need to rediscover, educate their families about, and eat real, clean food. Every day. And be physically active. Every day. Our level of activity, what we eat, and how much we eat, are the only real solutions to reducing obesity.

  • http://ptevara.in/ Niharika Sharma

    Nice post, Obesity is a concerning issue specially for children. To stay healthy and fit we should eat healthy diet or we can say balanced diet full of vitamins and mineral and also body fat monitor is necessary for accurate physique.