Americans in every state, apart from Oregon, are getting fatter!

A recently released report says all Americans, in every state, apart from those living in Oregon, are getting fatter, and those living in the southeast are the most likely to be obese.

This rather depressing news follows the launch of various campaigns and initiatives designed to raise awareness of healthy living and the risk of obesity.

According to the Trust for America's Health, it was found that Mississippi had the highest rate of obesity, with 29.5 percent of adults classified as obese in 2004, while Colorado was the slimmest state, with just 16 percent of adults classed as obese.

Oregon's rate of 21 percent was remained unchanged.

Shelley Hearne, executive director of the group, says it is clear there is a crisis of poor nutrition and physical inactivity in the U.S. which must be dealt with.

Experts have estimated that as many 119 million Americans, or 64.5 percent, of adults are either overweight or obese and the rate has been rising steadily every year.

Apparently the percentage of obese adults rose from 23.7 percent in 2003 to 24.5 percent in 2004.

The survey found that more than 25 percent of adults in 10 states are now obese, including Mississippi, Alabama, West Virginia, Louisiana, Tennessee, Texas, Michigan, Kentucky, Indiana and South Carolina.

As Americans are surrounded by rich and tasty food, do not need to exercise as part of daily life and have many sedentary pursuits such as watching television and using the computer, experts acknowledge the problem is difficult.

The group's report says, as yet federal obesity programs are not extensive enough, and there are too few local policies addressing community design issues, such sidewalks and suburban sprawl.

Added to this, school meal programs focus on getting the maximum calories into children, as opposed to balanced nutrition.

The survey is backed up to some extent by another report released on Tuesday which offers a very sound reason why more Americans are obese.

Dr. Bryn Austin of Children's Hospital Boston and colleagues, in their study found that fast-food restaurants in Chicago cluster themselves within a short walking distance of schools.

The researchers found the nearest fast-food restaurant was 0.3 miles away from half the city's schools, or just over a 5-minute walk, and as many as 78 percent of schools had at least one fast-food restaurant within half a mile.

Austin has reportedly said that cities are saturated with fast-food purveyors, and now a concentration of fast food has been found to be more so in school neighborhoods.

This means, says Austin, that 5 days a week, schoolchildren are sent into environments where there is an abundance of high-calorie, low-nutritional-quality, inexpensive food.

Kristen Harrison of the University of Illinois and colleagues has also reported that convenience or fast foods and sweets made up 83 percent of foods advertised during children's television programming.

But there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon; in a report involving 3,000 girls at 24 schools, Dr. Russ Pate of the University of South Carolina and colleagues found a female-focused physical-education program using dance, martial arts and aerobics helped girls become more active.

The researchers in this study found that 45 percent of the girls who took physical education in schools using the Lifestyle Education for Activity Program, or LEAP, reported 30 minutes or more of physical activity a day, compared to 36 percent of girls at schools not using the program.

These reports and studies are published in the American Journal of Public Health.

Overweight and Obesity: Defining Overweight and Obesity

Overweight and obesity are both labels for ranges of weight that are greater than what is generally considered healthy for a given height. The terms also identify ranges of weight that have been shown to increase the likelihood of certain diseases and other health problems.

Definitions for Adults

For adults, overweight and obesity ranges are determined by using weight and height to calculate a number called the “body mass index” (BMI). BMI is used because, for most people, it correlates with their amount of body fat.

  • An adult who has a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight.
  • An adult who has a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese.

See the following table for an example.

Height Weight Range BMI Considered
5’ 9” 124 lbs or less Below 18.5 Underweight
125 lbs to 168 lbs 18.5 to 24.9 Healthy weight
169 lbs to 202 lbs 25.0 to 29.9 Overweight
203 lbs or more 30 or higher Obese



The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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