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.