The number of states with an obesity prevalence of 30 percent or more has increased to 13 in 2010, compared to no states with that level in 2000, according to a report released July 19 by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Healthy People goal was to lower obesity prevalence to 15 percent within the past decade.
No state reported an obesity prevalence lower than 20 percent in 2010.
Dr. William Dietz, director of CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity, said the health and well-being of current and future generations is at stake.
“Obesity is a complex issue, and it will take every element of society working together to reverse the epidemic,” Dietz said.
Dr. Kimberly Redding, director of the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Program, said Georgia isn’t any different from other states facing an obesity problem.
“We know the answer lies in a multifaceted approach that brings government, agencies and other partners together for a prescription of unprecedented cooperation,” Redding said.
Obesity is rooted in social norms and behaviors and is often a result of the cultural environment, experts say.
“Reducing the rates of obesity and its related complications will require an intensive and sustained effort over many years, focused on creating environments that make healthy living easier.”
The data come from the most recent Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a state-based phone survey that collects health information from approximately 400,000 adults 18 and over. The 2010 BRFSS data confirm that no state met the nation’s Healthy People 2010 goal.
Since becoming a stand-alone agency on July 1, the Department of Public Health has made it a priority to tackle Georgia’s high obesity rate. The department launched the following initiatives:
nIn partnership with the Governor’s Office, the Georgia Department of Education and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, DPH is working to implement the Georgia Student Health and Physical Education Act. The SHAPE Act is a public-private partnership to promote childhood fitness and build a culture of wellness among the state’s youth.
Gov. Nathan Deal selected DPH to be the lead agency responsible for his campaign to reduce obesity across the state.
nThe CDC provides funding to Georgia through its Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity to address the problems of obesity and other chronic diseases through statewide efforts with multiple partners. The program’s primary focus is to create policy and environmental changes to increase physical activity, consumption of fruits and vegetables, and breastfeeding and to decrease TV viewing, consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, and consumption of high-energy dense foods (high calorie/low nutrient foods).
Additionally, the federal government is working to reduce and prevent obesity through initiatives such as first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign to address childhood obesity.
The nine states in 2009 that had an obesity prevalence of 30 percent or more are Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and West Virginia. In 2010, four more states had an obesity rate of 30 percent or more: Georgia, Michigan, South Carolina and Texas.
The BRFSS, a CDC-supported surveillance system, collects state-level public health data and provides a way for states to monitor progress toward national and state health goals. To assess obesity prevalence, phone survey respondents were asked to provide their height and weight, which was used to calculate their body mass index, or BMI. An adult is considered obese if he or she has a BMI of 30 or above. For example, a 5-foot-4 woman who weighs 174 pounds or more or a 5-foot-10 man who weighs 209 pounds or more both have a BMI of 30 or more so are considered obese.
For more information about Georgia’s obesity prevention efforts, visit www.health.state.ga.us. For more information on obesity prevalence, including an animated map, visit www.cdc.gov/obesity.