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Report ranks Sunflower State 16th in obesity

Published 6/30/2010 in Local News


Special to The Telegram

Kansas ranks as the 16th most obese state in the nation, according to a new report by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The report, "F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future," found that 28.1 percent of Kansas adults measured over a three-year period, from 2007 to 2009, were obese and 64.7 percent were at least overweight.

Nationwide, 34 percent of American adults were obese and 68 percent were overweight or obese.

Jeff Levi, executive director of the Trust for America's Health, called obesity "one of the biggest public health challenges the country has ever faced."

The report linked the fight against obesity to America's ability to compete globally, saying obesity has been linked to more than 20 diseases, including diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. Obesity affects worker productivity and, amid skyrocketing health care costs, obesity-related medical costs are about 25 percent of all medical spending, Levi said.

The report defined obese as a Body Mass Index of 30 or more and overweight as having a BMI of at least 25 but less than 30. According to the National Institutes of Health, a person who was 5 feet, 10 inches tall and weighed 174 pounds would have a BMI of 25. To determine your BMI, see the NIH calculator at

Mississippi, at 33.8 percent, had the worst adult obesity rate in the nation for the sixth year in a row, and 10 of the 11 states with the highest rates of obesity were in the South. Not coincidentally, 10 of the 11 states with the highest rates of diabetes and hypertension also were in the South.

On the other end of the scale, Colorado, at 19.1 percent, was the least obese state.

Despite federal and state campaigns to reduce obesity, the study found that it continues to rise.

For 2007-09, 38 states had obesity rates above 25 percent. By comparison, no state had an obesity rate above 20 percent in 1991. The number of states with adult obesity rates higher than 30 percent has doubled from four to eight in the past year.

The report also found ethnic and economic disparities in obesity rates. Nationwide, the adult obesity rate for black and Hispanic Americans was higher than that for whites in at least 40 states and the District of Columbia. And the obesity rate for adults earning less than $15,000 a year was 35.3 percent, compared with 24.5 percent for those earning $50,000 or more.

Of the 10 states with the highest obesity rate, six also were among those with the highest poverty rate, and eight were among the states with the highest percentages of people reporting that they engaged in no exercise in the previous 30 days. Mississippi ranked worst in the nation on all three lists.

Levi said that poorer people tended to have higher obesity rates because healthy foods cost more and there are fewer places to buy those goods in poor neighborhoods.

"The least healthy foods tend to be the most available to those people of poverty," Levi said.

Angela Glover Blackwell, CEO of PolicyLink, pointed out that 23 million Americans do not have a grocery store within one mile of their home and 8 percent of African Americans do not have a grocery store within their census track. In urban areas, unsafe neighborhoods also discourage people from being physically active by just walking around their neighborhood or going to a park or playground, she said.

In Kansas, white adults, with an obesity rate of 27.6 percent, were significantly less likely to be obese than black (41.9 percent) or Hispanic (32.8 percent) adults. The obesity rate for black Kansans was the fourth worst among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, while the rate for Hispanic Kansans was the ninth worst.

The report also looked at obesity rates among children and high school students, with Dr. James Marks, senior vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, pointing out that obese children grow up to be obese adults.

Nationally, 16.4 percent of children 10-17 are obese and another 18.2 percent are overweight. Among high school students, 12 percent are obese and an additional 15.8 percent overweight.

The 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that 12.4 percent of Kansas high school students were obese, another 13.1 percent were overweight and only 27.8 percent were physically active at least 60 minutes a day. The 2008 National Survey of Children's Health found a somewhat higher rate of obesity among Kansas children ages 10-17 (16.2 percent) and a lower rate of daily physical activity (25.2 percent).

For the full report, see

Kansas Obesity RatesNational Rank in ParenthesisAll Adults: 28.2% (16)Men: 29.6%Women: 26.8%White: 27.6%Black: 41.9% (4)Hispanic: 32.8% (9)High school students: 12.4%Children 10-17: 16.2% (18)Other Kansas Health Indicators Diabetes: 8.0% (30)Hypertension: 26.6% (30)Poverty Rate: 12.4%Physical Inactivity: 23.9% (25)Source: F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2010; Are You Overweight or Obese?Anyone with a Body Mass Index of 25 or higher is considered overweight. A BMI of 30 or more is considered obese.BMI of 25; 30Height / Weight4-10/ 119; 1434-11/ 124; 1485-0/ 128; 1535-1/ 132; 1585-2/ 136; 1645-3/ 141; 1695-4/ 145; 1745-5/ 150; 1805-6/ 155; 1865-7/ 159; 1915-8/ 164; 1975-9/ 169; 2035-10/ 174; 2095-11/179; 2156-0/ 184; 2216-1/ 189; 2276-2/ 194; 2337-5/ 200;2407-6/ 205;246Source: National Institu

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Found 1 comment(s)!


All this reading makes me hungry.

Posted by: Homer S. on 6/30/2010