Most Read: Lifestyle

Live Online Discussions

Weekly schedule, past shows

All We Can Eat
Posted at 12:40 PM ET, 08/13/2012

New analysis indicates America remains obese

A new analysis of U.S. obesity rates shows that, as a nation, we’re still carrying a lot of extra pounds. Twelve states have obesity rates that top 30 percent, according to an analysis released this morning by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The problem is not only that America remains fat, despite the best efforts of governments and activists in recent years, but also that we don’t know for certain whether the country is headed in the right direction. That’s because the new analysis is based on just-released Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data that use a whole new methodology for measuring obesity rates.

The new methodology is apparently so superior that any comparisons to previous years’ data are irrelevant. Incidentally, the CDC considers anyone with a body mass index of 30 or higher to be obese.

After the jump: The 10 states with the highest and lowest obesity rates.

For example, the District of Columbia’s obesity rate was 22.2 percent in 2010. For the latest survey, which measures rates for 2011, the percent of the District’s population now considered obese is 23.7 percent, which still places us among the nation’s, ahem, fittest.

But because of the changes in methodology, we don’t know if that means we’re getting fatter as a city — or if the data are just more accurate than in previous years. Presumably the latter (which could mean, for all we know, that the District’s obesity rate has dropped).

Likewise, Maryland’s obesity rate was 27.1 in 2010 and now stands at 28.3. Virginia’s rate was 26 percent in 2010 and is now 29.2. These comparisons, again, are meaningless.

And yet, no matter how you slice and dice the numbers, one thing remains clear: The nation is dreadfully overweight, which translates into billions of dollars a year in health-care costs, among other impacts.

Later this summer, the Trust for America’s Health will release its 2012 edition of “F as in Fat,” a report that analyzes obesity rates and each state’s efforts to combat the epidemic. The report will, according to a news release, “include a study that forecasts 2030 obesity rates in each state and the likely resulting rise in obesity-related disease rates and health care costs.”

Here are the states with the 10 highest and lowest obesity rates:

The highest:

1. Mississippi, 34.9 percent

2. Louisiana, 33.4 percent

3. West Virginia, 32.4 percent

4. Alabama, 32 percent

5. Michigan, 31.3 percent

6. Oklahoma, 31.1 percent

7. Arkansas, 30.9 percent

8. (tie) Indiana and South Carolina, 30.8 percent

10. (tie) Kentucky and Texas, 30.4 percent

The lowest:

1. Colorado, 20.7 percent

2. Hawaii, 21.8 percent

3. Massachusetts, 22.7 percent

4. (tie) District of Columbia and New Jersey, 23.7 percent

6. California, 23.8 percent

7. Utah, 24.4 percent

8. (tie) Connecticut, Nevada and New York, 24.5 percent

By  |  12:40 PM ET, 08/13/2012

Tags:  Tim Carman

Read what others are saying

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company