NC Ranks as 10th Fattest State in the Country

NC Ranks as 10th Fattest State in the Country

June, 29, 2010, by Stacey

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According to a recent study conducted by Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, North Carolina residents rank 10th among states for the highest obesity rate. Per the recently released report, nearly 30% of adults in the state are considered to be obese, which is an increase from the 2009 findings, in which North Carolina ranked 12th in the nation. More women than men were reported to be overweight, and additionally, 18.6% of children aged 10 to 17 were also reported to be obese. North Carolina ranks 11th in the nation for the greatest percentage of obese children as well.

The findings seem to be consistent with the health standards in the South, with 10 of the 11 states in the South ranking highest in the country for obesity rates. Race and income were found to have a correlation to obesity rates within the state as well. While rates of obesity ran between 25-27% for Caucasians and Latinos, approximately 40% of African-Americans in the state were reported to be obese; lower rates of obesity were present among those who earned an income of $50,000 or more, while significantly higher rates were noted among those whose income was $15,000 or less.

The report found that Mississippi has the highest rates of obesity (over 33%), while Colorado had the lowest rates (19%). The organization used the federal definition of obesity to support these findings, which for adults is a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater.

The Executive Director of Trust for America’s Health, Dr. Jeffrey Levi, commented on the findings:

“Obesity is one of the biggest public health challenges the country has ever faced, and troubling disparities exist based on race, ethnicity, region and income. This report shows that the country has taken bold steps to address the obesity crisis in recent years, but the nation’s response has yet to fully match the magnitude of the problem. Millions of Americans still face barriers - like the high cost of healthy foods and lack of access to safe places to be physically active - that make healthy choices challenging.”

In an effort to address the major issue obesity poses for the heath of North Carolinians, the state has made strides in programs and policies with the goal to improve the overall health of children. Nutritional standards and guidelines have been set by the state for meals served within schools, and body mass index screenings are required for students as well. Several years ago, only a handful of states had passed such regulations, so North Carolina appears to be among states in the forefront in fighting obesity among children.

More details on the findings of this report can be found at the Trust for America’s Health website.

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  • Brian
    06/29 08:07 PM

    Of course we’re the fattest.  We have the best food.

  • CtrlBurn
    06/29 08:08 PM

    I blame it on Morrisville.  Official slogan: City of No Two Things are Within Walking Distance of Each Other.

    That and southern food overload.

  • Ashe
    06/29 09:21 PM

    North Carolina needs to start getting serious about improving mass transit and bicycle infrastructure in our cities so that people can walk and bike around to their homes, jobs, schools, and entertainment sites.

  • Jim
    06/29 09:51 PM

    Like cigerettes add a big sin tax on all high calorie fast food and a give big tax break for low calorie fast food. If a double cheeseburger cost $10 - $15 weak willed and genetically disadvantaged people might make a different choice. Unfortunatly, the fast food lobby has too much money.

  • smitty
    06/29 10:53 PM

    Obesity and BMI are dependent on height.  The state should sponsor a program of putting the obese on a rack, thus stretching out their spines.  If performed judiciously, and especially on those who are borderline overweight, we should be able to reduce those average BMI numbers.

  • JeffS
    06/30 12:06 AM

    Jim, there’s no such thing as low-calorie fast food.

    Go home and eat a piece of broccoli instead. Of course, the sad part is that it will cost you more than a double-cheeseburger at the drive-thru.

    As long as the national policy is to raise corn-fed fatties, nothing is going to change.

  • 150
    06/30 09:54 AM

    To be honest, I don’t have a problem with this.  It’s all about choices.  Preparing healthy meals instead of consuming fast food doesn’t cost more money, but it does cost more time and effort.  You can make a low-calorie, low-fat food and have leftovers for lunch the next day, if you’re willing to cook for 20 minutes.  No need to hop in the car and hit the SuperBar at Wendy’s.  Similarly, it takes effort and time to burn those calories.  Jogging after work, playing softball, going for a swim, whatever, all require effort and take time.  If it’s important to someone, they’ll find time.  I suspect the issue is too many people tend to take the easy route, which is laziness instead of exercise; and hitting the drive-thru instead grocery shopping and cooking.

  • Christopher B.
    06/30 10:33 AM

    @150 - You win today, for mentioning The SuperBar at Wendy’s. What was that, like 1991? Thanks for the memories

  • RaleighRob
    06/30 10:37 AM

    I’m so tired of the argument that healthy food is higher priced than fatty food.  Um, no…a can of corn, peas or carrots at the grocery store costs 79 cents for 15 ounces. A can of chunk lite tuna is about the same, and a loaf of store-brand whole wheat bread is just a couple of bucks, and would last a good week or so. 
    It’s usually about laziness more than cost.

  • Abby
    06/30 10:47 AM

    Haha, Smitty!

    That photo is grim. Poor woman. I bet she didn’t sign a waiver for that one.

  • JeffS
    06/30 11:00 AM

    Canned food, and bread loaded with preservatives is what people should aspire to? Really Rob?

    What it’s USUALLY about is multiple industries spending hundreds of millions a year in advertising to try to get you to buy their “food”. It’s about decades of whittling away at you until drive-thrus seem normal and we forget that real bread doesn’t last a week. We feed our school kids crap because we’re too cheap to provide better, then use them as a funding source by lining the hallways with vending machines.

    But I guess you’re right. If you have the willpower to do it, you can probably survive out of the canned-foods isle.

  • JT
    06/30 11:06 AM


    Perfect example.  You can also get near unlimited lentils and rice for $5.  Make 4 quarts of chicken stock at home for ~$5.  This will flavor soups, rice, lentils or beans all of which are $1 a pound for dried.  Substituting with herbs/veggies from the farmers market for another $10 and you have all the food for one person for under $20 a week.  Add tuna, chicken per day for an extra $10 a week.

    But no one knows how to cook from scratch anymore :)

  • 150
    06/30 11:19 AM

    I’m right there with you, JT. 
    Another example - Breakfast for a week: Box of Coco Puffs = $4.  A dozen eggs = $1.50.  Daily Value Meal #2 at McD’s = $15.  Which one is the cheapest and which is the healtiest?
    For Lunch - A yogurt and a turkey on wheat sandwich you made at home? About $2/day.  Jared’s $5 foot long?  Um $5/day.  Hardees Thickburger Meal?  $7/day.  Which is cheapest and which is healthiest?
    It’s not cost that is keeping people from eating well.

  • Steve
    06/30 11:30 AM

    Fat people make me angry.

  • Ken Metzger
    06/30 12:03 PM

    You forgot to mention the cheapest of them all:  Ramen Noodles.  The problem is that they are loaded with fat.  Cheap bread is also pumped up with high fructose corn syrup.  Yes, you can eat cheap and healthy (you could stay lean on dry beans and millet for less than $1 a day), but it requires some education.

    150, what do you want people to do with that breakfast, put some water on that shit?

  • 150
    06/30 12:15 PM

    @Ken Metzger:  You’re seriously going down this path, calling eggs a shitty breakfast?  Ok, I’ll help you out.  Go splurge on a $2 loaf of bread and make an egg sandwich.  Go buy a potato and you’ve got hash browns to go with it.  Add an orange or banana, at 40 cents each.  Combined, it’s still cheaper than your bowl of Count Chocula (and none have the fat of your Ramen Noodle example).
    By the way, people plunk down money at Lenny’s Denny’s Denny’s for that same breakfast, so it can’t be that bad. 
    You do bring up a good point though.  Many associate cheap associated bland or boring or “shit”.  News flash, it doesn’t have to be, you just have to think a bit.  I’ll bet JT and others agree.

  • Ken Metzger
    06/30 12:52 PM

    Just thought you could use some milk.

  • Sue
    06/30 12:54 PM

    But why does the South make up 10 or the top 11.  Everything listed is an issue everywhere.  Are we drinking too much sweet tea?  What can Raleigh do to help? More greenways and bikepaths would be nice.

  • 150
    06/30 12:58 PM

    @Ken:  Gotcha!  Clearly, I’ve never seen that movie.  Your next dozen eggs is on me.

  • HYPE
    06/30 01:17 PM

    This is very sad to hear! While I would love to cite Southern food as the culprit, we all know it isn’t. The problem is two or three fold really: lack of healthy foods, lack of exercise, and (underlying, I guess) a lack of a healthful society.

    Lack of healthy foods was kind of mentioned above. I will say that since this problem seems to plague the low-income in particular, maybe a sizable root of the problem is in the price of good food. After a while, it might turn out that eating processed foods and fast food is cheaper than eating healthy foods or whole foods, especially if you have a family. Whole Foods is a treat for me, I’d love to be able to actually shop there, but it’s too pricey for a college student and I have to stick to HT or convenience stores. People, men and women, need to know how to cook a bit too, I think someone mentioned that- right on.

    Recreation needs to be something people do too. Not just go to the gym three times a week, but a lifestyle choice. I like skateboarding every day, so I’ll make time to go out and do it for an hour or two, in addition to some other physical activities I like. People need that in their lives, healthy things they want to do and can enjoy more than being sedentary. We need the facilities for it too- we need skateparks and rock walls alongside baseball fields and tennis courts and we need to encourage people to do stuff again, no matter what it is they like to do. People need a few things they like to do and the society has to encourage that and create an environment for it, by making good food available and physical activity available.

    I guess that’s all kind of common sense though.

  • evilgenius
    06/30 03:25 PM

    suprised nobody has blamed it on the yankees ‘-)

  • Micah
    06/30 05:40 PM

    The argument that healthier foods cost more in both time, effort and cost is true, in my opinion.  The argument that better public transport, more walkable city-building practices, greenways, rock walls, whatever, would help reduce obesity is just silly.  You don’t need any of these things to exercise.  People that don’t exercise aren’t going to exercise even if you put a greenway outside their house that leads directly to the grocery store a half-mile away.

  • Big Worm
    06/30 07:44 PM

    @ 150: The fact that you’ve never seen Friday is worse than double fisting chili cheese burgers.

  • Aaron
    06/30 09:24 PM

    Now they’re going to have ‘Meatless Mondays’ and serve more vegetables at the schools. And cut down on the fries.
    Oh the humanity.

    07/01 09:58 AM

    Now that the Peanut Gallery has “weighed in”, let me tell you the reason we are fat.

    But first, let’s all take a moment to point and laugh at the fat girl on the beach! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    ok…so here’s the deal, people:  there is no financial incentive to be “fit”.  The fatter we get, the broader a safety net the government casts on us; in fact, once we have UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE you can expect the number of fat people to grow larger and larger.  If you want to change the way people eat, exercise, and live….make it to their financial benefit to do so.  Until that time, we will (largely) go for the fast, cheap, easy brain award of fat, sugar, and lethargy.  Remove government intervention in health care markets, and you’ll see fat people paying much higher premiums….and you’ll see (as BCBS and others have initiated) insurance carriers rewarding you for visiting the gym, with lower rates.

    The other major reason for fat in this country is the terrible eating habits that are forced on us by our awesome government-run schools.  Pizza, tater tots and “chocolate” milk for 13 years….then….you’re on you’re own!  It is unreal that we spend all those years learning the most esoteric garbage (calculus?  macrobiology?) and are not taught how to take care of ourselves.

    Solve those two problems, and you’ll solve the fat issue.  Of course, if you do that…..I’ll have fewer people at whom to point and laugh :)

    07/01 10:04 AM

    errr, you’re on your own.

  • nmr
    07/01 10:48 AM

    @ Jeff S:  Chill out, man, I know what Rob is saying.  Not all store brands are created equal, If you make sure to keep a good bread loaf in the fridge (ala 9th St bakery or something) it keeps just fine.  I guess I don’t understand the pile on of what was a pretty reasonable and low key post.

  • Tony Woodard
    07/01 11:47 AM

    To that guy who wants me to make chicken stock and rice and beans and add tuna if I am feeling fancy. I have three kids hanging all over me and my husband won’t get off of his ass unless it’s to climb on top of me and do his business AND I JUST DON’T HAVE TIME! I barely have time to clip my fingernails and that happens only when I lock myself in the bathroom to have a good cry.

  • T-Plain
    07/01 12:35 PM

    I’m all for greenways and bike paths and sustainable locally sourced organic buzzword promenades, but I don’t think that fat people are fat because they really want to go for a walk and just can’t find a good place to do so. There is no shortage of fitness opportunities.

    07/01 01:59 PM



    T-plain:  good point.  I bet most of those fat people just sit around all day, responding to blog posts on the internet.  Or something like that.

  • mgd
    07/01 04:59 PM

    Picture = Tasty Cakes

  • Ashe
    07/02 12:33 PM

    A study was just released by University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, and the RAND Corporation which looked at rates of obesity before and after the construction of the Charlotte light rail system and showed that better access to public transit DID improve (lower) obesity rates.

    07/02 03:45 PM

    Ashe - that’s interesting.  So we build light rail, and suddenly everyone gets thinner?  or is it just those people who live in a neighborhood or work in an area deemed “important enough” for light rail, while the rest of us regular folks are just asked to foot the bill?

    One more question…..did that same study take a look at obesity rates after the fat people GOT OFF THEIR ASS and worked out ?  Or changed their diet?  I wonder what would cost society less and have a greater impact:  a do-gooder train to connect ITBers to the Chapel Hill restaurant district, or people actually taking personal responsibility for their own body?

  • JeffS
    07/02 04:14 PM

    You guys make it tooo easy to pick out the fat SUV driving suburbanites among us.

    Where do all the new roads get built? new schools? new utilities (power, water, sewer, etc)? The people contributing to the sprawl are the absolute last ones that should be complaining about others creating an expense burden.

  • mgd
    07/02 04:43 PM

    JeffS that is a fact-less over generalization.  Add some supporting documentation to your opinion so you at least sound intelligent.

    07/02 05:27 PM

    LOL….hey Jeff - wanna compare tax returns?

    Think about that one while I go fill up my 24-gallon SUV.  For the 3rd time this week.  With LEADED fuel.  And no catalytic converter.  Or muffler.  And it needs an oil change.

    Where, indeed, do all those road funds go these days?

  • Bill S
    07/04 05:11 PM

    Instigator, +1

  • rachel
    07/06 11:44 AM

    looks like nc is also top ranking for fat shaming. wow.

    this is a really interesting article from the washington post called “the high cost of poverty” that makes some valid points about how difficult it is to get by below the poverty line in this country:

    sure, it’s cheaper to cook lentils at home. if you can afford the gas, not to mention a car to drive yourself to the grocery store. or if you have 2 hours to take a bus to & from the grocery store. and the time and equipment to prepare the food.

    07/07 06:04 PM

    Rachel -

    of course it is difficult to “get by” below the poverty line in this country.  THAT’S WHY IT’S CALLED THE ‘POVERTY’ LINE.  Of course, the term “get by” is relative.  For example:  try “getting by” below the poverty line in Uganda.  Then, compare that to what you can “get by” with as a person living below the poverty line here.  If you want people to be able to pull themselves out of poverty, then join me in a call to end all government programs that do nothing more than create a generational dependency cycle.  I dare ya.

  • Insufferable Hipster Douchebag
    07/09 08:38 PM

    Gosh, I wonder why people in NYC are thinner? Could it be that they actually have to walk and there isn’t a fast food joint every other block selling chocolate covered deep fried bacon wrapped twinkies?

    The reason people here are fat boils down to lack of exercise and poor eating habits. Period. Eating healthy and walking sometimes is dirt cheap.

    07/14 08:07 AM

    hey douchebag…..good point… is hard to find junk food in NYC:

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