“F” As In Fat: States With Highest Obesity Rates Among Latinos

Oct 28, 2015

Looking at Latino obesity rates by state, they were above 35% in four states and at least 30% in 23 states, according to F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2011, a report from Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). By comparison, obesity statistics for Whites topped 30% in just four states and no state had an adult obesity rate higher than 32.1% among Whites. “The information in this report should spur us all — individuals and policymakers alike—to redouble our efforts to reverse this debilitating and costly epidemic,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., RWJF president and CEO. “Changing policies is an important way to provide children and families with vital resources and opportunities to make healthier choices easier in their day-to-day lives.”

Racial and ethnic minority adults, and those with less education or who make less money, continue to have the highest overall obesity rates by state.

Nearly 33% of adults who did not graduate high school are obese, compared with 21.5% of those who graduated from college or technical college.

More than 33% of adults who earn less than $15,000 per year were obese, compared with 24.6% of those who earn at least $50,000 per year.

For the first time ever, the report also examined how the obesity epidemic has grown over the past two decades. Twenty years ago, no state had an obesity rate above 15 percent. Today, more than two out of three states, 38 total, have obesity rates over 25%, and just one (Colorado) has a rate lower than 20%. Obesity rates have grown fastest in Oklahoma, Alabama, and Tennessee, and slowest in Washington, D.C., Colorado, and Connecticut.

Currently, among Latinos the highest rates of obesity were found in South Carolina (50.9%), Kentucky (44%), Pennsylvania (39.9%), and North Dakota (38.3%). The lowest obesity rates among Latinos were found in Washington, D.C., where only 13.3% of the Latino population is considered obese.

Jeff Levi, Ph.D., executive director of TFAH said, “There was a clear tipping point in our national weight gain over the last twenty years, and we can’t afford to ignore the impact obesity has on our health and corresponding health care spending.”

The full report with obesity rates by state in all categories is available on TFAH’s website  and RWJF’s website. The report was supported by a grant from RWJF.

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