Obesity Still Common, Costly Health Concern

CDC obesity data shows highest rates in South and Midwest

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released 2013 data on obesity in the US. While obesity rates varied across states, no state was immune to the ongoing health concern.

The CDC report indicated that southern states had the highest overall obesity rates, followed closely by the Midwest.

Based on the data, the CDC said obesity continues to be a major public health concern.

"Exercise and maintain a healthy diet to control your weight."

In an interview with dailyRx News, Dr. Barry Sears, founder of the Inflammation Research Foundation and creator of The Zone Diet, said inflammation and the resistance to insulin it causes are responsible for many cases of obesity. Insulin is a hormone that regulates the amount of sugar in the blood.

Dr. Sears said an anti-inflammatory diet — which typically includes fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and unsaturated fats — can both reduce inflammation and make patients feel full, which can prevent obesity.

According to the CDC's patient-reported data, no US state had an adult obesity rate lower than 20 percent. Colorado had the least obesity — at 21.3 percent of residents.

Two southern states tied for the most obese: Mississippi and West Virginia. Both had an obesity rate of 35.1 percent.

While the South and Midwest were the most obese regions (30.2 percent and 30.1 percent, respectively), the West had the lowest obesity prevalence — 24.9 percent. The Northeast was a close second at 26.5 percent.

Dr. Sears said reducing obesity rates in the US should start early. Many babies are exposed to toxins and other factors in the womb that increase their risk of obesity later in life.

"There are many factors that give rise to these [nongenetic] marks including diet-induced inflammation, pesticides, toxins (PCB, BPA, etc.), and excess levels of insulin if the mother herself is insulin resistant," he said. "None of these are easily changed."

The CDC report also covered obesity rates by race. Based on combined data from 2011 to 2013, blacks reported the most obesity (37.6 percent). Obesity prevalence was 30.6 percent among Hispanics and 26.6 percent among whites.

The obesity rate among blacks was highest in Mississippi (42.9 percent), while Hispanics had the most obesity in Iowa (37.6 percent) and whites were the most obese in West Virginia (33.8 percent).

Despite regional and racial differences, parents, Dr. Sears said, can break the chain of obesity by teaching their children good habits as early as possible.

"Once a child's dietary habits are formed by age one, they are very difficult to change," he said. "Of course, the parents have to be eating the same way they want their child to eat."

Review Date: 
September 4, 2014
Last Updated:
September 6, 2014