MARY CLARE JALONICK,Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — Most parents think childhood obesity is a problem. Just not their kids' problem.
An annual obesity report by two public health groups includes more bad news — obesity rates increased in 28 states last year — and also a new survey of parental attitudes about the issue. The survey shows an increasing awareness of obesity and its threat to public health, though that knowledge has yet to translate into results.
"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," said Jeffrey Levi, executive director of the Trust for America's Health, which writes the annual report with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The new survey shows that 84 percent of parents believe their children are at a healthy weight, even though nearly a third of children and teens are considered obese or overweight. Still, 80 percent of those polled by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and American Viewpoint said childhood obesity is a significant and growing problem.
Obesity in adults is defined as a body mass index of 30 or more, while overweight is a body mass index between 25 and 30.
Colorado was ranked as the least obese state in the country with an adult obesity rate of 19.1 percent.
Mississippi continued its six-year reign as the country's fattest state in the study's yearly rankings, along with the highest rates of physical inactivity and hypertension. The state also has the second highest rate of diabetes.
Last year, four states — Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and West Virginia — had obesity rates of over 30 percent. This year, four more states have that distinction, bringing the total to eight states with rates over 30 percent. Those states were Louisiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Arkansas.
The District of Columbia was the only area to see a decline in adult obesity rates.
The new survey said one in every three Hispanics in Arizona is obese and the state is among the six most obese in the nation when it comes to its Hispanic population. It ranks Arizona 15th out of 50 states and the District of Columbia for its rate of childhood obesity.
The report also said 18 percent of Arizona children ages 10 through 17 are obese, putting them at higher risk for chronic illnesses like diabetes and cardiovascular disease later in life. It said 26 percent of Arizona adults are obese, up one percentage point from the previous year, and Arizona is the 29th most obese state in the nation.
The rise in obesity rates around the U.S. has been sharp in the last 20 years. More than two-thirds of states now have adult obesity rates above 25 percent. In 1991, no state had an obesity rate above 20 percent.
The report also details racial disparities in obesity, showing that obesity rates for blacks and Latinos were higher than for whites in 40 states and the District of Columbia.
Trust for America's Health: http://healthyamericans.org/reports/obesity2010/