New research indicates one in five people in the U.S. is considered obese, according to a September news release from the CDC.
The highest rate of obesity among demographic groups was non-Hispanic blacks at 38.1%, followed by Hispanics at 31.9% and non-Hispanic whites at 27.6%.
“At least 35% of the population in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and West Virginia is obese, with Louisiana outpacing the others at 36.2%,” the release stated. “The South, where all four states are located, had the highest regional prevalence of obesity, at 31.2%.”
The release, which included a detailed map of obesity rates by state showed that the “slimmest region” of the country was the West with a population that is 25.2% obese. The Northeast was next with 26.4%; and the Midwest ranked third with 30.7%.
Colorado is the state with the lowest obesity rate, 20.2%. The other lowest states, with rates below 25% were California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Montana and Utah, in addition to Washington, D.C.
The data were collected using the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a healthcare questionnaire conducted through a telephone survey.
The new data came out just a few months after the FDA’s decision to revamp 20-year-old nutrition facts labeling in an effort to help consumers make healthier choices with their food purchases. Bold and large text indicating caloric content and added sugars will be one of the changes consumers will soon see on food packaging, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website.
The obesity epidemic costs $200 billion in medical fees, according to the Campaign to End Obesity website.
“Much can be done to reverse the epidemic, yet important opportunities to tackle obesity at the national policy level – including changes that enable more Americans to eat healthy and be active, as well as those that provide appropriate medical treatment for patients – have gone largely unmet,” the website stated.
September marked the sixth anniversary of National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, established by President Obama to address the problem of obesity among one third of American’s children.
First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Campaign also began six years ago to encourage children to eat healthy and get at least 60 minutes of exercise a day.
In August, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released its SuperTracker lesson plans for high school teachers to educate their students about healthy eating and physical activity. The lessons are developed for use by health, physical education and consumer education teachers.
“Teens who are overweight or obese are more likely to be overweight and obese as adults, putting them at risk for chronic diseases such as hypertension, heart disease, and type-2 diabetes,” USDA experts wrote in the lesson plans. “While the decision to choose a healthy lifestyle is ultimately up to the individual, teachers have the opportunity to influence their students by providing them with the information they need to make informed choices.”
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