America’s waistline is expanding – fast. Obesity rates across the U.S. have soared over the past 30 years despite having leveled off last year, according to newly released data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 1990 – the first year obesity figures were collected – obesity rates across the U.S. never exceeded 15 percent. In 2013, however, every state had an obesity rate of 20 percent or higher.
That means at least one-fifth of the population in every single state in the country is considered obese (having a body mass index above 30). The majority of states have obesity rates between 25 percent and 30 percent, the new data shows; 18 states have rates of obesity exceeding 30 percent but less than 35 percent. Obesity is highest in Mississippi and West Virginia, both of which had rates just above 35 percent.
"Obesity in America is at a critical juncture,” Jeffrey Levi, executive director of Trust for America's Health, which released its own report Thursday confirming the mounting obesity epidemic across the U.S., said in a statement. “Obesity rates are unacceptably high, and the disparities in rates are profoundly troubling. We need to intensify prevention efforts starting in early childhood, and do a better job of implementing effective policies and programs in all communities.”
Trust for America's Health’s survey highlighted the racial and ethnic disparities in U.S. obesity. Black and Latino communities in the U.S. report the highest rates of obesity of any group, according to the report.