U.S. loses ground in battle against obesity

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It's been widely reported that exercise and a healthy diet help to control obesity. Unfortunately, most of us aren't paying attention. Obesity rates have increased in 37 states since last year, according to a new health report.

In every state except Colorado—now the slimmest state in the union—at least one in five adults are obese. In 28 states, that number jumps to more than one in four, according to the report, "F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies are Failing in America, 2008." Notably, the report finds that the 10 states with the highest percentage of portly people are in the South, and that there is a direct connection between obesity rates and poverty: Seven of those 10 most obese states are also the poorest.

Obesity can lead to a range of health problems, including diabetes, heart disease and hypertension. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in July released a separate obesity study that found that, an average of 25% of Americans are obese, compared with only 19.4% of seniors over 70. A recent article in the journal Health Services Research found that obese seniors cost Medicare an extra $15,000 to $26,000 each (McKnight's, 7/28). This new report comes from a joint effort between the Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and The Robert Woods Johnson Foundation.

More information is at www.rwjf.org.