Good News, Bad News … Obesity Rates Over 30% in 12 States, But Junk Food Laws Might Be Working

Two years ago I wrote about the ‘2009 State of Obesity’, which showed a rate rising so quickly that the map-makers needed to change the color scales AGAIN to deal with things! At that point there were 6 states with OVER 30% obesity and a single state with LESS than 20%. Now it is time again for the updated numbers and … they aren’t good.

Here are the basics:

  • 12 states now have obesity rates above 30%, though none are above 35%.
  • 11 are between 20-25%
  • the remaining 27 states are between 25-30%
  • The extreme low was 20.7% in Colorado and the high was 34.9% in Mississippi – and both saw ~1% increase from 2009.
  • Regionally, the South had the highest prevalence of obesity (29.5%), followed by the Midwest (29.0%), the Northeast (25.3%) and the West (24.3%). Note that there is a 5% difference between the South/Midwest and the West/Northeast.

Some Good News?
As I noted recently there is an indication that the cholesterol level is decreasing in children, possibly due to regulations and pressure related to removal of trans-fats from common foods.

Well, there is even MORE seemingly good news, as a new report shows initial indications that tie tougher ‘junk food in schools’ laws to a DECREASE in obesity.

Children in the study gained less weight from fifth through eighth grades if they lived in states with strong, consistent laws versus no laws governing snacks available in schools. For example, kids who were 5 feet tall and 100 pounds gained on average 2.2 fewer pounds if they lived in states with strong laws in the three years studied.

Also, children who were overweight or obese in fifth grade were more likely to reach a healthy weight by eighth grade if they lived in states with the strongest laws.

The effects weren’t huge, and the study isn’t proof that the laws influenced kids’ weight. But the results raised optimism among obesity researchers and public health experts who generally applaud strong laws to get junk food out of schools.

The obvious concern is about the ‘nanny state’ interfering with parental choices … but when those choices directly lead to out of control obesity, spiraling Diabetes and other health issues, and exponentially increasing health costs being shouldered by even healthy people, then it crosses the line from ‘private concern’ to ‘public concern’.

Naturally junk food in school is only one aspect of the life of a child. I have written in the past about the kid who was friends with our younger son when we lived in Massachusetts who knew we wouldn’t serve him soda and junk food so one day when coming for a playdate had his mother pack him a bag of soda and processed junk.

What have you seen in your area – stricter rules? More or less obesity? And what do you think about having laws restricting junk food in schools?

Source: Reuters

Categories: Health and Fitness, News


3 replies

  1. What’s worse is just how few normal weight adults there are: 31.6%. Everyone else is either overweight or obese.

    This is a far cry from just 30 years ago, when close to 70% of the population was of normal weight.

    • It is very true … and not to dispute but one thing that makes this stuff difficult is how many states even 10 or so years ago really didn’t track the info. So while the trends are true, our ability to properly assess the breadth of the problem has also gotten much better.

      The amazing thing is how the obesity rate has grown exponentially since the late 70’s … right when we began pumping everything full of corn sugar to make stuff ‘low fat’ …

  2. Obesity leads to so many different medical problems, and somehow the skyrocketing obesity rates and its relation to skyrocketing healthcare costs have been ignored by politicians. It’s the “elephant in the room” and until we the people start to take ownership of our personal responsibility for our own health, legislation to control healthcare costs will ultimately fail.