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Obesity Rates Increase Among Americans

Update Date: Sep 04, 2014 04:24 PM EDT

Six American states registered increasing obesity rates in 2013, with Mississippi and West Virginia leading the pack. A new study has shown that 35.1 percent of adult population in these two states is now obese.

Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) greater than 25. The BMI is weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared. The report titled "The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America", shows that all states have obesity rates exceeding 20% among adults. The report was produced by Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation based on federal government data, The Guardian reported.

"Obesity rates are unacceptably high, and the disparities in rates are profoundly troubling," Jeffrey Levi, executive director of TFAH told Guardian.

Compared to findings of 2011-12 where only one state registered a percentage increase in its obese population, the six states which posted a rise last year include Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, New Jersey, Tennessee and Wyoming. At 21.3%, Colorado was found to be the healthiest state, BMI-wise.

According to Al Jazeera, most obese states were in the south, a trend that was seen during previous years as well.

A correlation between obesity and demographics was also noted. The report's findings showed a 75% of obesity rate in African Americans against 67.2% in white Americans, indicating that higher rates of obesity were seen in poorer populations owing to non-availability of healthy foods and lack of exercise due to unsafe neighborhoods.

Besides being the most obese state, West Virginia also had the highest percentage of people who do not exercise, West Virginia Public Broadcasting reported. With 13% of its high school students obese, the state ranked sixth in that category.

Overall, one third of the children were found to be obese, a finding similar to previous years. The study also showed that 8% of African American children were severely obese as compared to 3.9% white children. 

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