Thanksgiving is not a holiday characterized by restraint. The prep time is long, the food abundant, the fights passionate, and the next-day shopping insane. And, of course, there’s the eating. Overeating is practically a part of the holiday.
That wouldn’t be cause for concern if eating to excess were limited to one late-November day a year. But it’s not—and it’s no secret that the nation’s eating and exercise habits have been getting a lot worse over the decades, as vividly displayed in the animation above. Waistlines have been slower to expand in some states than in others, but there is no state where fewer than one in five people is obese as measured by a body mass index greater than 30.
In 2012, Colorado had the lowest obesity rate of any state at 20.5 percent of the population qualifying, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Louisiana had the highest rate, at 34.7 percent. Obesity was highest in the Midwest, where the regional rate was 29.5 percent. The South was close behind at 29.4 percent. Some 25.3 percent of the Northeast was obese last year, with the West right behind with 25.1 percent obesity. In 2000, there wasn’t a single state with an obesity rate above 30 percent. By 2012, there were 13.
High obesity is about more than looks, of course. Those extra pounds can shave years off one’s life and high rates are associated with increased risk of numerous preventable health issues. And obesity, as with nearly all societal ills, has a disproportionate effect across genders and races.
All told, more than one in three Americans is obese, a fact that as of five years ago was estimated to cost $147 billion annually in medical costs. Rates are highest for non-Hispanic blacks (49 percent), followed by Mexican Americans (40 percent) and all Hispanics (39 percent).
While high incomes were correlated with higher obesity among non-Hispanic black and Mexican-American men, the opposite trend holds for women.
|District of Columbia||21.9|