Obesity rates keep climbing in US

A record number of US adults are now obese, with 2 million more people crossing that unhealthy weight threshold between 2007 and 2009, according to new numbers released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More than 72 million adults are now classified as obese, which is defined as a body-mass index of 30 or more, a calculation based on the relationship between a person’s weight and height.

No US state has a population with an obesity rate of less than 15 percent, which is the official US government goal for the country. In nine states, the rate is greater than 30 percent. Just 10 years ago, no state had an obesity rate of greater than 30 percent.

California’s obesity rate is 24.8 percent. Sixteen states have lower rates.

Non-Hispanic black women (41.9 percent) and Hispanics (30.7 percent) have the highest rates of obesity.

Government agencies and non-profit groups across the country and in California are placing intense focus on the obesity issue, in part because the condition contributes to so many other health problems. The direct and indirect costs of obesity were estimated at $147 billion in 2008 dollars.

One example of a group fighting the epidemic is the Health Education Council. The council has launched a variety of initiatives to educate people about obesity and try to change their behavior. Many are aimed at children because so many children are overweight and destined for obesity and other health problems if they continue on their present course.

The council’s Rethink Your Drink” initiative works with medical professionals, agencies targeting children five years old and younger, schools, employers and local officials to provide training and education to get consumers to reduce or eliminate the consumption of sweetened beverages, which are associated with obesity, and Type 2 diabetes.

The council is also working with local farms to bring boxes of fresh produce to worksites, schools and community-based organizations, and working with employers to provide healthier food at meetings.

The council’s In the Grow program offers parent education and teacher training about healthy food choices and physical activity as well as how to start a school or community garden. And the council is working more broadly to ensure that all Californians have access to healthy and affordable foods and beverages, especially fresh fruits and vegetables.

To see the full CDC report, go here.

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