Americans are still getting fatter, national report says

Government isn't doing enough, nonprofit claims

August 24, 2005|By NEWSDAY

Despite a smattering of government initiatives to curb the trend, Americans continued to gain weight last year. The adult obesity rate inched up to 24.5 percent from 23.7 percent in 2003, a new report says.

More than a quarter of adults in 10 states are obese, and seven of those 10 states are in the Southeast. Colorado had the lowest adult obesity rate, at 16.8 percent. Maryland ranked 29th with rate of 21.7 percent.

Co-written by former Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening, the report was the second such annual report released by the Trust for America's Health, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, nonpartisan health advocacy organization.

"While it's indisputable that individual behavior - eating less and exercising more - is critical to addressing this problem, the government and private industry also have important roles to play," Glendening said. "The bottom line is that there is a lot more that could and should be done.

"Our key finding is that federal programs are too limited," he said. "Many states have launched promising programs. ... But to really see changes in people's health, these programs must grow significantly."

Obesity is generally defined as being 20 percent or more above average weight for one's height and age.

The new national report made numerous recommendations, challenging individuals and families to make even small changes in diet and physical activity and urging communities to offer free or low-cost fitness programs and provide healthy food at community events.

It urged the federal government and schools to require more nutritious meals when bidding for contracts, and encouraged smarter community design that would incorporate sidewalks and recreational facilities.

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