American adults getting fatter

Wed Jul 1, 2009 1:21pm EDT
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By Julie Steenhuysen

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Obesity rates continued to climb in the past year with 23 U.S. states reporting adults in their states are fatter now than they were a year ago, two advocacy groups said on Wednesday.

Obesity rates did not decrease in a single state last year, and the groups warned that the U.S. obesity epidemic must be addressed as lawmakers reform the nation's health system.

"Our health care costs have grown along with our waistlines," said Jeff Levi, executive director of Trust for America's health, which released the report along with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

He said the obesity epidemic is contributing to skyrocketing health costs, and said the problem has to be addressed at the highest levels of government.

Being overweight or obese raises the risk of heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, arthritis and other conditions.

The annual ranking of obesity rates in U.S. states found Mississippi continues to be the state with the fattest residents, with nearly a third of adults -- 32.5 percent -- considered obese. The state has topped the list for the past five years.

Three other states -- West Virginia, Alabama, and Tennessee -- now have obesity rates above 30 percent, they found.

Colorado has the thinnest residents, with an obesity rate of 18.9 -- the only state under 20 percent. Massachusetts is next, at 21.2 percent, followed by Connecticut, at 21.3.   Continued...

<p>A woman walks along the boardwalk while leaving the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York in this September 4, 2007 file photo. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/Files</p>