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July 22, 2009
6 States Have Obesity Rates of 30 Percent or Higher

The proportion of U.S. adults who are obese increased from 25.6 percent in 2007 to 26.1 percent in 2008, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  In 6 states--Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia--adult obesity prevalence was 30 percent or more.

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Mississippi had the highest proportion of adults who are obese (32.8 percent). Thirty-two states had obesity prevalence of 25 percent or more.  Only one state, Colorado, had a prevalence of obesity less than 20 percent.  But no state showed a significant decrease in obesity prevalence from 2007 to 2008.

More than 400,000 U.S. adults were surveyed in a telephone health survey.  To assess obesity prevalence, survey respondents were asked to provide their height and weight, which is used to calculate their body mass index (BMI).  A person is considered obese if they have a BMI of 30 or above.

“Obesity is a major risk factor for many chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.  As obesity increases among all age groups, we are seeing chronic diseases in much younger adults compared to a few decades ago,” said Dr. William Dietz , director, CDC's Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity . “For example, we now see young adults who suffer from heart disease risk factors and other conditions such as type 2 diabetes that were unheard of in the past.”

The CDC recently launched a new website designed to help employers address obesity: LEANWorks! In an attempt to lower healthcare costs and improve producitvity, a growing number of employers have created wellness programs. There are a host of legal issues that employers must address when they have a wellness program. Be sure to visit the Wellness topic on this website for resources to help you develop an effective and legal wellness program.

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