OBESITY levels have reached nearly 40 per cent in parts of the United States, a shocking new map reveals.
The map shows that in nine states – Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, and West Virginia – adult obesity is at or above 35 per cent.
But in West Virginia and Mississippi that figure hits 39.5 per cent, according to data from the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Across the whole of the US, only three states have obesity levels under 25 per cent, and none have less than 20 per cent.
Colorado, Hawaii and the District of Columbia are the healthiest.
Obesity costs the United States health care system over $147 billion a year and research has shown it affects work productivity and military readiness, says the CDC.
When she was First Lady, Michelle Obama championed the cause of tackling childhood obesity.
But John Auerbach, president and CEO of the Trust for America’s Health, which fights for action to tackle obesity, said individual campaigns weren’t enough.
“These latest data shout that our national obesity crisis is getting worse,” he said.
“Almost 50 years into the upward curve of obesity rates we haven’t yet found the right mix of programs to stop the epidemic.”
“Isolated programs and calls for lifestyle changes aren’t enough.
“Instead, our report highlights the fundamental changes that are needed in the social and economic conditions that make it challenging for people to eat healthy foods and get sufficient exercise.”
The data comes from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, an ongoing telephone interview survey conducted by CDC and state health departments.
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When the figures are broken down by education, those who did not finish high school had the highest level of obesity – 35 per cent of adults – compared with 24.7 per cent among college graduates.
Adults aged 18-24 had the lowest self-reported obesity – 18.1 per cent – half the figure of those aged 45-54.
Broken down by regions of the US, 33.6 per cent of adults in the South were obese and the 33.1 per cent in the Midwest.
In the Northeast it was 28 per cent and the West 26.9 per cent.
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