R.I., Mass. among lowest for adult obesity

Rhode Island and Massachusetts have two of the lowest adult obesity rates in the country, according to a new report that showed the obesity rate remaining static in all but one state. More

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Health Care

R.I., Mass. among lowest for adult obesity

COURTESY ROBERT WOOD JOHNSON FOUNDATION
OBESITY RATES HELD STEADY in all states but Arkansas in 2012, with Massachusetts and Rhode Island ranking among the lowest.
Posted 8/16/13

WASHINGTON – Rhode Island and Massachusetts have two of the lowest adult obesity rates in the country, according to a new report that showed the obesity rate remaining static in all but one state.

The report by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, called “F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2013,” showed only Arkansas increased its adult obesity rate in the past year. The stabilized rates came after decades of consistent increases.

Rhode Island ranked 36th out of all 50 states and Washington, D.C., tying with Alaska and Minnesota at 25.7 percent. Massachusetts fared better with 22.9 percent adult obesity, placing it at 49th on the list.

Louisiana had the highest adult obesity rate at 34.7 percent, with Mississippi second at 34.6 percent. Arkansas was third at 34.5 percent. Only Washington, D.C., at 21.9 percent, and Colorado, at 20.5 percent, had lower rates than Massachusetts.

The rate of increase has appeared to slow somewhat since 2005, according to a release. After increasing in all states in 2005, adult obesity rates went up in only 37 in 2008, 28 in 2010 and 16 in 2011.

A recent report from the CDC showed that obesity rates among low-income children had declined in 18 states including Massachusetts.

“After decades of unrelenting bad news, we're finally seeing signs of progress. In addition to today's news about the steady rates for adults, we've seen childhood obesity rates declining in cities and states that were among the first to adopt a comprehensive approach to obesity prevention,” said Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, RWJF president and CEO, in a statement. “But no one should believe the nation's work is done. We've learned a lot in the last decade about how to prevent obesity. Now it's time to take that knowledge to scale.”

The report highlights certain policy measures, such as requiring restaurants to post calorie information and ensuring opportunities for physical activity, as effective in fighting obesity.

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