Illinois Adults Tipping the Scale the Wrong Way

July 09, 2011

We are getting fat.

According to a recent study, “F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2011,” adult obesity rates over the last year increased in 16 states, including Illinois.

In fact, not one state in this country posted a decline in obesity rates.

The study, released by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation (RWJF), reported that Illinois, which ranked the 28th highest in adult obesity last year with a rate of 26.6 percent, weighed in at 27 .7 percent this year, moving our state up to 23rd.

chicago pizza

Being the pizza capital of the country doesn't help Chicago residents stay slim.

When you combine the adults in Illinois who are either overweight or obese, you get 63.7 percent of the population.

And, when it comes to childhood obesity, Illinois’ rate is 20.7 percent, which ties us for fourth worst in the country with Louisiana. That’s disturbing.

In 1995, only 15.3 percent of adults in Illinois were obese. Back then, no state had an obesity rate above 16 percent. Today, 38 states have obesity rates over 25 percent and only one, Colorado (19.8 percent) had a rate lower than 20 percent.

The five states with the highest adult obesity rates are Mississippi (34.4 percent), Alabama (32.3 percent), West Virginia (32.2 percent), Tennessee (31.9 percent) and Louisiana (31.6 percent).

To figure out if you are obese, you have to measure your body mass index, which is a ratio of height and weight using a body mass index (BMI) calculator. You are obese if you have a BMI of 30 or greater.

Obesity has been associated with many severe health problems, including diabetes and high blood pressure, and the report shows that rates of both have risen dramatically over the last two decades.

“The information in this report should spur us all — individuals and policymakers alike — to redouble our efforts to reverse this debilitating and costly epidemic,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A, RWJF president and CEO. “Changing policies is an important way to provide children and families with vital resources and opportunities to make healthier choices easier in their day-to-day lives.”

The report lists recommendations for policymakers for reversing this obesity trend, including increasing access to affordable healthy foods, expanding physical activities and restoring nutritional assistance programs.

Meanwhile, Chicago residents have no excuse. We are one of the most walkable cities in the country!

Categories: Awards, City of Chicago

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