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Report: Tennessee ranks as second most obese state

Report: Tennessee ranks as second most obese state

Posted: Friday, July 2, 2010 5:55 am
By: WASHINGTON

WASHINGTON — Tennessee was named the second most obese state in the country, according to the seventh annual “F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future” 2010 report from the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The state’s adult obesity rate is 31.6 percent, and in Tennessee men are more obese than women at 32.2 percent. Now more than two-thirds of states (38) have adult obesity rates above 25 percent.
The report highlights troubling racial and ethnic disparities in obesity rates. For instance, adult obesity rates for blacks and latinos were higher than for whites in at least 40 states and the District of Columbia. In Tennessee, the adult obesity rate was 41.1 percent among blacks and 39.5 percent among Latinos, compared with 29.8 percent among whites.
In addition, the report shows regional and income disparities in the obesity epidemic. For example, 10 out of the 11 states with the highest rates of obesity were in the South, with Mississippi weighing in with highest rates for all adults (33.8 percent) for the sixth year in a row. More than a third (35.3 percent) of adults earning less than $15,000 per year were obese compared with roughly a quarter (24.5 percent) of adults earning $50,000 or more per year.
“Obesity is one of the biggest public health challenges the country has ever faced, and troubling disparities exist based on race, ethnicity, region and income,” said Jeffrey Levi, PhD, executive director of TFAH. “This report shows that the country has taken bold steps to address the obesity crisis in recent years, but the nation’s response has yet to fully match the magnitude of the problem. Millions of Americans still face barriers – like the high cost of healthy foods and lack of access to safe places to be physically active – that make healthy choices challenging.”
Obesity rates among youths ages 10-17 from the 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health also were included in the 2009 F as in Fat report; 20.6 percent of children were obese in the state, with the state ranking sixth out of the 50 states and D.C. for childhood obesity. Data collection for the next NSCH will begin in 2011. Currently, more than 12 million children and adolescents in the United States are considered obese.
The report also included the results of a new poll on childhood obesity conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and American Viewpoint. The poll shows that 80 percent of Americans recognize that childhood obesity is a significant and growing challenge for the country, and 50 percent of Americans believe childhood obesity is such an important issue that we need to invest more to prevent it immediately. The survey also found that 84 percent of parents believe their children are at a healthy weight, but research shows nearly one-third of children and teens are obese or overweight.
“Obesity rates among the current generation of young people are unacceptably high and a very serious problem,” said Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, RWJF president and CEO. “To reverse this national epidemic, we have to make every community a healthy community. Americans are increasingly ready and willing to make that investment.”
Additional key findings include:
• Adult obesity rates for Blacks topped 40 percent in nine states, 35 percent in 34 states, and 30 percent in 43 states and D.C.
• Rates of adult obesity for Latinos were above 35 percent in two states (North Dakota and Tennessee) and at 30 percent and above in 19 states.
• Ten of the 11 states with the highest rates of diabetes are in the South, as are the 10 states with the highest rates of hypertension.
• No state had rates of adult obesity above 35 percent for Whites. Only one state – West Virginia – had an adult obesity rate for Whites greater than 30 percent.
• The number of states where adult obesity rates exceed 30 percent doubled in the past year, from four to eight — Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and West Virginia.
• Northeastern and Western states had the lowest adult obesity rates; Colorado remained the lowest at 19.1 percent.
The report found many states are undertaking a wide range of policy initiatives to address the obesity crisis. Some key findings include:
At the state level:
• Tennessee set nutritional standards for school lunches, breakfasts, and snacks that are stricter than current United States Department of Agriculture requirements. Twenty states and D.C. have set such standards. Five years ago, only four states had legislation requiring stricter standards
• Tennessee has nutritional standards for competitive foods sold in schools on á la carte lines, in vending machines, in school stores, or through school bake sales. Twenty-eight states and D.C. have nutritional standards for competitive foods. Five years ago, only six states had such standards.
• Tennessee has passed requirements for body mass index screenings of children and adolescents or legislation requiring other forms of weight-related assessments in schools. Twenty states have passed such requirements for BMI screenings. Five years ago, only four states had passed screening requirements.
• Tennessee has not passed Complete Streets legislation, which aims to ensure that all users — pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities — have safe access to a community’s streets. Thirteen states have passed Complete Streets legislation.
Published in The Messenger 7.1.10

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