By Ted Nesi
PBN Web Editor
PROVIDENCE – Despite their love of Del’s Lemonade and hot wieners, adult Rhode Islanders are one of the least obese state populations in the nation, according to a new study.
Rhode Island has the fourth-lowest rate of adult obesity in the nation, with 21.7 percent of adult residents classified as obese by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to the new report, “F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies Are Failing in America 2009,” by Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The report said the rate of obese adults stayed steady over the past year. Nationwide, adult obesity rates increased in 23 states and did not decrease in any of them.
Mississippi topped the list for the fifth year, with 32.5 percent of adult residents classified as obese. Colorado had the lowest rate at 18.9 percent, the only state with an adult obese rate below 20 percent. Massachusetts was second at 21.2 percent.
Rhode Island ranked in the middle of states, however, when it came to overweight youths, with 30.1 percent of residents ages 10 to 17 classified as either overweight or obese, the study found. That gave the state the 29th-highest rate of any state in the nation, and was almost exactly the same as Massachusetts, where the rate among young people was 30 percent.
“Our health care costs have grown along with our waist lines,” Dr. Jeff Levi, executive director of Trust for America’s Health, said in a statement. “The obesity epidemic is a big contributor to the skyrocketing health care costs in the United States. How are we going to compete with the rest of the world if our economy and work force are weighed down by bad health?”