Were you the one who ate that extra piece or two of fried chicken, or pulled a third or fourth hamburger or hot dog off the grill at the neighborhood Fourth of July cookout Saturday afternoon?
If you’re living in Georgia, the chances are pretty good that you — or worse, your kids — are guilty as charged.
According to the annual obesity rankings from the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation,
released just before the holiday weekend, the state of Georgia tied with Texas to rank 14th among the 50 states in adult obesity, with a rate of 27.9 percent. Perhaps even more troubling is the fact that Georgia ranked third in the nation with regard to overweight and obese children ages 10-17, at 37.3 percent.
For the record, Mississippi holds the dubious distinction of having both the highest adult obesity rate, at 32.5 percent, and the highest rate of obesity and overweight among children ages 10-17, at 44.4 percent. The lowest adult obesity rate is found in Colorado, at 18.9 percent, and the lowest rates of obesity and overweight among those 10-17 years of age are found in Minnesota and Utah, which tied at 23.1 percent.
The study’s rankings of adult obesity are based on 2006-08 data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. The study’s rankings of childhood overweight and obesity are based on the National Survey of Children’s Health, a phone survey of parents conducted in 2007 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
According to information from HHS, a body mass index of 18.5-24.9 is considered normal weight, an index of 25-29.9 is considered overweight, and an index of 30 or above is considered obese. For reference, a 6-foot-tall person weighing 210 pounds has a body mass index of 28.5.
While Georgians and other Southerners don’t fare particularly well on the obesity indexes of the nonprofit Trust for America’s Health — the top 10 rankings for both the adult and youth categories go overwhelmingly to Southern states — the organization’s data indicate that obesity is a nationwide problem.
Consider the following, from a news release announcing the
latest data: “... (T)he percentage of obese or overweight children is at or above 30 percent in 30 states. ... Adult obesity rates now exceed 25 percent in 31 states and exceed 20 percent in 49 states and Washington, D.C. Two-thirds of American adults are either obese or overweight. In 1991, no state had an obesity rate above
In conjunction with this year’s obesity report, the Trust for America’s Health is calling for a National Strategy to Combat Obesity that would include providing healthy foods to students at schools; increasing availability of affordable healthy foods nationwide; increasing physical activity in schools; limiting time spent in front of televisions and computer screens; and encouraging establishment of work-place wellness programs.
Those are worthwhile goals, and it should be noted here that the trust’s strategy also sees a role for families in combating obesity and overweight.
That is as it should be, because in many cases, the home will be the place where healthy eating and exercise habits can be best established and reinforced. There is certainly a role for the wider community, most especially schools, in helping young people to establish good eating and exercise habits. But if parents can be persuaded and helped to set those examples at home, progress can be made in combating both adult and childhood obesity.
The Trust for America’s Health report should become a catalyst for addressing obesity and overweight across all age groups in this country.