“It’s official: Kentucky is a mecca for blubber,” The Courier-Journal‘s Darla Carter reports. The state has the sixth highest rate of obese adults, is one of just six states whose obesity rate has risen for the second year in a row, and is one of a dozen states with above 30 percent. The findings are in the 2011 “F as in Fat” report released by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Kentucky’s obesity rate is 31.5 percent. Mississippi had the highest rate with 34.4 percent and Colorado was lowest with 19.8 percent. The problem is biggest in the South, which has nine of the 10 fattest states; Michigan also ranks. Fifteen years ago, no state had an obesity rate of more than 15 percent, the report notes. “Today, the state with the lowest obesity rate would have had the highest rate in 1995,” said Jeff Levi, executive director of the Trust for America’s Health. “There was a clear tipping point in our national weight gain over the last 20 years, and we can’t afford to ignore the impact obesity has on our health and corresponding health care spending.”
The problem is largest for racial and ethnic minority adults — the obesity rate for blacks in Kentucky is over 43 percent — and for those with less education and lower incomes. Almost 33 percent of adults who didn’t graduate from high school are obese, compared to 21.5 percent of people who have college or technical college degrees. More than 33 percent of adults who earn less than $15,000 per year were obese, compared to nearly 1 in 4 adults who earn at least $50,000 each year.
The obesity epidemic is having an effect on people’s health. Since 1995, diabetes rates have doubled in eight states, including Kentucky. In 1995, Kentucky had a diabetes rate of 4.2 percent. Now it is 10.5 percent. The hypertension rate 15 years ago was 22.2 percent. Now it is 31.6 percent. (Read more)
The rates only reflect adults who are defined as obese, not overweight. Taking both figures into account means 67.1 percent of Kentucky adults are either obese or overweight. For county-by-county data, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention‘s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and Kentucky Health Facts, click here.