MAINE, Maine — Americans are getting fatter according to a recently released obesity study that ranks states per their fatness.
Nine U.S. states have adult obesity rates above 35 percent in 2018 and that is up from seven states at that level in 2017.
The 16th annual State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America report was released Thursday by Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and there is not a lot of good news.
Maine is tied with Virginia for 28th spot of 50 states with adult obesity rates at 30.4%. The Pine Tree state is also the fattest among states in New England with Massachusetts having the thinnest adults.
- Maine (30.4%)
- New Hampshire (29.6%),
- Rhode Island (27.7%),
- Vermont (27.5%),
- Connecticut (27.4%)
- Massachusetts (25.7%)
Dr. Michael Duffy is a primary care physician at Northern Light Mercy Hospital. He says a lot of things could be contributing to this, including the cold winters, where it's difficult to find fresh produce.
"It takes a real commitment to be active. Fresh fruit and produce are not easy to find in Maine," said Dr. Duffy.
Michele Polacsek is a public health professor at the University of New England. She says the whole country is dealing with this issue, but says Maine suffers from specific challenges.
"We're a rural state, parts of Maine have low income populations, so we know that in a rural state, many people don't have access," said Polacsek.
Meanwhile, Dr. Duffy says one in six children are overweight or obese. He says those are harsh numbers that need to be looked at, especially at a young age.
"Help them, help their life styles improve," said Dr. Duffy.
Not only is obesity a serious health risk that increases the chances for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke and many types of cancers but being overweight is estimated to increase national healthcare spending by $149 million annually and is the most common reason young adults are ineligible for military service.
State by State rates of adult obesity – highest to lowest:
- 1. Tie Mississippi and West Virginia (39.5%),
- 3. Arkansas (37.1%),
- 4. Louisiana (36.8%),
- 5. Kentucky (36.6%),
- 6. Alabama (36.2%),
- 7. Iowa (35.3%),
- 8. North Dakota (35.1%),
- 9. Missouri, (35.0%),
- 10. - Tie: Oklahoma and Texas (34.8%),
- 12. - Tie: Kansas and Tennessee (34.4%),
- 14. South Carolina (34.3 %),
- 15. - Tie: Indiana and Nebraska (34.1%),
- 17. Ohio (34.0%), 18. Delaware (33.5%),
- 19 - Tie: Michigan, North Carolina (33.0),
- 21. Georgia (32.5%),
- 22. New Mexico (32.3%),
- 23. Wisconsin (32.0%),
- 24. Illinois (31.8%),
- 25. - Tie: Maryland and Pennsylvania (30.9%),
- 27. Florida (30.7%),
- 28 - Tie: Maine and Virginia (30.4%),
- 30. Tie: Minnesota and South Dakota (30.1%),
- 32. Oregon (29.9 %),
- 33. New Hampshire (29.6%),
- 34. Three-way Tie: Alaska, Arizona and Nevada (29.5%),
- 37. Wyoming (29.0%),
- 38. Washington (28.7%),
- 39. Idaho (28.4%),
- 40. Utah (27.8%),
- 41. Rhode Island (27.7%),
- 42. New York (27.6%),
- 43. Vermont (27.5%),
- 44. Connecticut (27.4%),
- 45. Montana (26.9%),
- 46. California (25.8%),
- 47. - Tie: Massachusetts and New Jersey (25.7%),
- 49. Hawaii (24.9%),
- 50. District of Columbia (24.7%),
- 51. Colorado (23.0%).
The report is based in part on newly released data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS).
The report calls for a tax on sugary drink, expanding SNAP and WIC nutritional support programs and to encourage more physical activity to help address the growing health crisis.