Many students who are heading back to school will be trying to absorb lessons in geography and health this year. Let’s do a little interdisciplinary instruction to see which states made the grade as far as obesity is considered and which didn’t. The calculations are from a new analysis by the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), a non-profit and non-partisan organization dedicated to saving lives by protecting the health of every community and working to make disease prevention a national priority, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which is the national’s largest philanthropy devoted to health and health care.
Using data from the 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the researchers found that Colorado was at the head of the class in 2011 with a 20.7 percent obesity rate. Who else is at the top of the class? The locations that recorded fewer than one in four citizens as being obese included the following: Hawaii (21.8 percent obesity rate), Massachusetts (22.7 percent), a tie between the District of Columbia and New Jersey (23.7 percent apiece), California (23.8 percent), Utah (24.4 percent), a three-way tie between Connecticut, Nevada and New York (24.5 percent each), Montana (24.6 percent) and Arizona (24.7 percent).
Twenty-seven states fell in the middle group with between 25-30 percent of their population considered obese. These states were Wyoming (25 percent), a tie between Rhode Island and Vermont (25.4 percent apiece), Minnesota (25.7 percent), New Hampshire (26.2 percent), New Mexico (26.3 percent), Washington (26.5 percent), Florida (26.6 percent), Oregon (26.7 percent), Idaho (27 percent), Illinois (27.1 percent), Alaska (27.4 percent), Wisconsin (27.7 percent), a tie between Maine and North Dakota (27.8 percent apiece), Georgia (28 percent), South Dakota (28.1 percent), Maryland (28.3 percent), Nebraska (28.4 percent), Pennsylvania (28.6 percent), Delaware (28.8 percent), Iowa (29 percent), North Carolina (29.1 percent), a tie between Tennessee and Virginia (29.2 percent) and a tie between Kansas and Ohio (at 29.6 percent).
The bottom group of states where a third or more of the citizens were obese include Missouri (30.3 percent), a tie between Kentucky and Texas (30.4 percent apiece), a tie between Indiana and South Carolina (30.8 percent apiece), Arkansas (30.9 percent), Oklahoma (31.1 percent), Michigan (31.3 percent), Alabama (32 percent), West Virginia (32.4 percent), Louisiana (33.4 percent) and Mississippi (34.9 percent).
“Obesity has contributed to a stunning rise in chronic disease rates and health care costs. It is one of the biggest health crises the country has ever faced,” Dr. Jeffrey Levi, TFAH executive director, said on the organization’s website. “The good news is that we have a growing body of evidence and approaches that we know can help reduce obesity, improve nutrition and increase physical activity based on making healthier choices easier for Americans. The bad news is we’re not investing anywhere near what we need to in order to bend the obesity curve and see the returns in terms of health and savings.”