Americans are Fat and Getting Even Fatter

Every time we do a story on TV about obesity, I usually joke (off camera of course), “There are those headless people again.” We’re careful not to offend anyone about being overweight, or make them feel uncomfortable, so we show them from the neck down. Apparently discretion isn’t  doing them any favors.

The latest obesity report found that Americans are packing on the pounds. Adult obesity rates increased in 16 states in the past year and saw no drop in any state, according to F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens Americas Future 2011. The states with the highest rates tended to be in the South (Oklahoma’s obesity rate has increased more than any other state in the past 15 years), with Colorado boasting the lowest obesity rate. (I’ve experience both ends of the scale, so to speak, in the past couple of hours. As I write this, I’m sitting in the Denver airport, having just flown in from Tulsa. From fat to fit in under two hours.)

The report offers a disturbing picture of how much more obese Americans are today than they were 20 years ago. Two decades ago, no state had an obesity rate above 15 percent.  Today 38 of them have obesity rates over 25 percent, and just one has a rate lower than 20 percent. “Today, the state with the lowest obesity rate would have had the highest rate in 1995,” said Jeff Levi, Ph.D., executive director of the Trust for America’s Health.

As the report points out, weight-related illnesses have increased, too. Diabetes is the most worrisome, and rates of the illness climbed in a dozen states over the past year. Now, 32 states have diabetes rates greater than 8 percent.

So as long as Americans’ waistlines continue to expand, we ‘ll continue to show people walking around with their heads cut off. Apparently with no head, many can’t think about the consequences of being fat.

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