Good marks for D.C. in national obesity analysis

WASHINGTON — The nation’s most overweight states are mostly in the south and Midwest, according to a new study from the nonprofit State of Obesity group, which conducted a state-by-state analysis of obesity rates.

Arkansas and West Virginia have the highest obesity rates in the United States: 36 percent of adults in those states are obese, the data show. Mississippi ranked third: 35 percent of its adults qualify as obese.

A person is considered obese if his or her body weight is 20 percent higher than it should be. People with a Body Mass Index 30 or over are considered obese.

In Arkansas, the obesity rate has risen 22 percent over the past 15 years. It has the second highest rate of obese high school students and the fifth highest rate of adults with diabetes.

West Virginia has the sixth highest rate of obese high school students. It ranks first in adults with diabetes and hypertension.

Conversely, D.C. ranked last in national obesity. Just 22 percent of the city’s adults are obese. Only eight percent of its adults have diabetes; 28 percent of adults have hypertension.

Maryland and Virginia ranked 26th and 31st, respectively. Thirty percent of Maryland’s adults are grossly overweight, compared with 28 percent in Virginia.

The problem, according to the report, is that Americans consume food and drinks that fail to meet dietary guidelines.

In turn, it’s tough for people to maintain healthy weight and proper nutrition. Fruits, vegetables, lean meats and whole grains are more expensive. Foods with lower nutritional value are mass produced and easier to buy.

Education, a lack of access to healthy food, safe housing and stress also factor into obesity rates.

According to the USDA and CDC, Americans eat more than the daily recommendations for total calories, sodium, saturated fats, refined grains and added sugars, while consuming too few whole grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, seafood and oils.

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